How to Loose Customers — Fast!

How many businesses do you know have “Quality Service” as their slogan? Now, how many business, from your experience by using their services, do you think really mean it?

Our family isn’t known for it’s love of eating out. My wife’s a good cook so we save a lot of  money by dining at home.  However, about once a week we do love to shop and visit in Lethbridge, a small city near us. If it’s approaching noon and we need a quick lunch we often dine at Subway. There are three Subway Restaurants in the area of Lethbridge that we frequent–well, two actually, now that we’ve eliminated one from our favorites list. Why the elimination? Because of stingy customer service.

Because I’m a vegetarian, my favorite choice is Subway’s veggie salad. I don’t care for lettuce, so I ask  the server to omit the lettuce and, would he mind adding a bit more baby spinach instead. I love the stuff! At the other two Subway Restaurants that we frequent in Lethbridge, the servers won’t  hesitate to load, usually twice as much spinach on my plate to compensate for the ‘no lettuce’ deal–but not this one guy! No sir! Not only won’t he increase the spinach on my plate, he’s even skimpy on everything else that I choose from his selection to make up a veggie plate.

Did I complain about my dissatisfaction with his attitude? No. The cost is only a few dollars and I just didn’t think enough of the guy’s business to feel he was worth my time to complain. With so many other Subway franchises near by that offer premium service, I just made it a point not to frequent his establishment again. So, who’s the looser in this situation?

I ran my own small, three-person service orientated business for over thirty years before retiring. I learned very early in my business years that honest, top quality, professional service must be a priority if I wanted to survive and remain competitive. Furthermore, I made it a point to  never wait for a customer to first complain before taking corrective action, and that habit paid off handsomely because, with few exceptions (mostly situations that were beyond my control),  my customers remained with me until I finally had to close shop because of my retirement. I’m proud of that record!

If you plan on staying in business, customer feedback is just as important to you staying in business as quality of service and dependability are.  Have you ever taken a close look at the top portion of a Walmart customer sales slip? Read it and you will see why Walmart is a success. It’s obvious that good service is a priority with them because the slip asks, “We want to know how we ‘re doing!” They even offer monetary incentives to entice you to respond. You can tell, they’re serious: they want to ensure that, if you shop in their stores,  you are getting the absolute best service for your money that they can possibly give you.

A final bit of advice: don’t wait for your customers to complain before responding, because, unless you’re selling big ticket items where there’s a lot of money involved and it’s worth a customer’s time to complain if unfairly dealt with, such dissatisfied customers will just leave your establishment and you’ll never see them again!  You loose. Big time!

Be creative in thinking up ways to receive feedback on how you’re relating to your customers. One policy that I ran with for several years was to remember my customer’s birthday and anniversary, usually with a card and/or a small gift. It didn’t cost me much to implement this policy, but it was sure appreciated. As a result, because I had laid the groundwork for  mutual value and respect for each other, if a complaint did arise, even if it was only a small, seemingly insignificant problem, my customers thought enough of me to come forward and talk to me. We became friends! I had developed the true meaning of the word, “Customer Loyalty”.

Creativity is the foundation for the mother-of-invention saying … and an assured road to success.

About Albert Schindler

I was born on the 27th of February, 1931, on a farm near Hubbard, Saskatchewan. As far back as I can remember I had a spirit that would not stay earthbound. In junior high, I remember taking first place for a short story in which I described my terrifying encounter with a dinosaur. In outer space – that is, when the teacher wasn’t directly speaking to me, I went where Buck Rogers wouldn’t dare go. I was more of a Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes type of guy, with my own, personal, very powerful, transmogrifyer always at the ready. In my ‘teens and twenties, I pushed aside my Calvin alter ego in favour of making a living and didn’t take seriously again my ‘writer’s bug’ until my late 30s. I still saw that the world as full of exciting things to learn and investigate, which my writing reflected in the several articles and a couple of short fiction pieces that I wrote and sold, including over 30 children’s radio plays for Alberta’s ACCESS Radio. Unfortunately, I abandoned my budding writing career in favour of starting my own business as a sign painter. Now that I can officially call myself ‘retired,’ I plan to resume my writing career, only this time, writing mostly fiction. Why fiction? I have lead a great, adventurous life in which I made many mistakes (the ‘adventure’ in life), that have taught me some very important lessons and allowed my spirit to grow to unimaginable proportions, inconceivable to me while still in my thirties. In fiction, I believe, one can adventure into both the inner and outer consciousness of man and the universe to infinite levels where only the boldest dare peak. Convention holds that article writing has to be factual – oh, you can be creative in how you present your information, but ‘fact’ (whatever that means) still must have its parameters in article writing, whereas fiction is limited only by the size of a writer’s spirit, and so far, I haven’t been able to fathom my limit.
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