customer-service-zeus-digitalNever Take Gratitude for Granted

I grew up and began my business career in Northeast Tennessee. I lived there for 46 years and endured the economic ups and downs in business that helped define who I’ve become as a business person and what I expect from those to whom I give my business. But, there was one thing about working through those times that was always present…that I took for granted. Customer service, and the basic appreciation for one’s business is a critical piece in putting together the puzzle of any successful business practice. I didn’t realize the importance of gratitude in a business relationship until I arrived in Myrtle Beach, SC in 2001.

It seemed too many encounters in setting up my new business relationships were met with skepticism (and perhaps entitlement) instead of gratitude. That’s hard to take when one has become accustomed to having folks show appreciation for one’s consideration of patronage. It took me a while to figure out why breaking into business in Myrtle Beach was so different from my previous experiences. Coming from a town, largely made up of folks whose families have lived there for generations, then moving to an area frequented by transients, and made up of transplants from other regions apparently requires an adjustment in expectations. Not!

I do not believe the lack of gratitude for business is justified in any circumstance. Appreciation for business and great customer service is an integral fiber in weaving business relationships. My first banking relationship in my new home was the eye-opener for what lay in store. I set up a checking and savings account at a bank near my home, and made it a point to go in inside (whenever possible) to make deposits and withdrawals. I sincerely wanted, and tried,  to get to know those who worked there. It didn’t take that long for me to know most of their names and even a little of each of their personal lives. I knew the branch manager was a dog lover and that he had to have his long-time friend put down. I knew the head teller’s daughter had newborn twins. Another teller had become engages to be married.  I learned those things by paying attention to conversations among the tellers and other employees, not by way of their conversations with me. Oddly (to me at the time), no one there took the time to know my name, or anything about me…or my business. They, at least, seemed to be living in their own worlds, and the customers that made their jobs possible were unimportant.

After two years, I changed banks and found a very similar attitude (of little gratitude) there as well. Even the grocery store personnel and home improvement center relationships were less personal and seemingly less appreciated than the experience of gratitude to which I expected. I’ve since determined the melting pot of culture in Myrtle Beach and the resulting experience will never measure up to the hometown, old fashion customer service I took for granted…for 46 years. But, I shall continue to expose that flaw whenever possible. I will often express to business owners and their personnel that I want to give my business to those who will appreciate it. I’m also very quick to point out that I expect nothing less than great customer service. I refuse to to reward anyone whose practice is to ignore the simple steps that are basic for creating a good business relationship. Do you expect great customer service? Do you ensure that your customers know how much you appreciate their business.

In your business, I sincerely hope you take the time to say please, and thank you. I hope you smile (even when talking on the phone) when greeting your regular and prospective clients. Please take the time to know their names and something about their business. And by all means, if there’s a problems with the product or service you provided…fix it, and let them know you’re happy to do so! Business is not an entitlement, but great customer service before, during, and after the sale should be. Customer service begins with the customer and continues with your grateful service.

I’m certainly grateful for the time you took to read this article. I hope it has helped you in some way. The lack of customer service is still my biggest pet peeve. If you continue to read my writing, and I hope you do, you’ll probably see this subject come up again. When you experience great customer service, let the provider know how much you appreciate their attention to this valuable detail. Never take gratitude for granted.

Thank You!