Ask SCORE: Is Customer Service Alive in Your Business?

SCORE Bucks County
Image via SCORE Bucks County.
SCORE Bucks County works with financial experts like David Boster to teach business owners and entrepreneurs the best business practices.

It seems that the concept of customer service has become foreign to large corporations.

Technology has enabled companies to have computers talk to you when you call. The majority of the time the computer cannot answer your question so you begin to ask for a human to talk to. After several futile attempts, you find yourself yelling at a computer.

When you do finally connect with a real person invariably, they cannot answer your question and must put you back on hold, or worse, transfer you and the process goes full circle. There are exceptions, of course, but in general, I feel customer service is dying at large companies. 

Small businesses realize that they are competing with online buyers and internet companies that offer fast, free shipping. How can brick and mortar stores compete? The answer has not changed over the years. Small stores can out-service the online giants. Very few consumers know your product or service as well as you do.

You can guide the customer through the buying process making sure they purchase what they need. You can provide hands-on after sale support and are always available to answer questions. You would think that a positive attitude toward the customer is not only understood but also put into practice. I found this to not always be true.

Recently I purchased a few items at a local convenience store. I was not greeted when I came in and nobody asked if I needed assistance. When I placed my items on the counter the clerk said nothing. He scanned the items and mumbled the total. I handed him money, and he made the change and again said nothing. I had to ask for a bag, which seemed to annoy him. Amazingly, he was the owner of the store. Trust me, I will never shop in that store again.

If you own a brick-and-mortar store or are a single-service proprietor value customer service.  It is a strong competitive advantage. Greet each customer with a smile and a “Hello, welcome” or “Hi, nice to see you.” Make your customer feel welcomed and appreciated. Take the time to engage the customer by asking, “What brings you in today?”

After all, you are the expert on your product or service. Show appreciation when they purchase something. Let the customer know you stand behind your product and that you will always answer questions. Invest in your customer service, it pays dividends.

Do not let service die, not in your business.

Learn more about customer serve at SCORE Bucks County.

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