strawberry smoothie martha stewart

{source – Martha Stewart}

Word of mouth can make or break a business.

Tied up with this is the importance of repeat sales. Think about how often this occurs in your life… perhaps you have a few favourite restaurants, or that lovely little coffee shop you tell your friends about. Or, in your business or craft, a particular store you always go to (whether online or off-line) and would recommend to anyone.

Why do you frequent these places? Chances are you have always been the recipient of great products – and, perhaps most importantly, excellent customer service.

I have been personally reminded of the crucial part customer service plays in having a successful business via two separate experiences that happened in close proximity to each other.


The Yarn Store

There is a yarn store near where I used to live, and the first time I went there I was quite pleased by the selection (small but effective) and the service of the shop assistant. I subsequently went back a few times… until one day, when I walked out, vowing never to return.


Because, as a customer, I had been made to feel like a nuisance, rather than a person of value.

I guess the shop assistant (who, I think is also the owner, because she is always in there whenever I walk past) must have been having a bad/stressful day – but that is no excuse.

I went up to her to ask about the prices of some yarn. Now, they were on a set of shelves, which were labelled – but I was looking at the shelf the yarn was resting on, expecting that to be the price… but no, as I was huffily told, the price of the yarn is on the label above it. Silly mistake to make, I know, but boy, did she make me feel like an idiot for asking the question!

I did go ahead and buy some yarn, but she did nothing to allay my feeling of discomfort as she testily scanned my items, took my money, and gave me a long-suffering grimace/smile.

I walked out of there feeling like an idiot.

Do you think I’ll ever go back? I haven’t yet.

Do you think I’d recommend this shop to friends? On the contrary, here I am using it as an example of what not to do!


The Smoothie Store

Nick and I were shopping one day a while ago, and we felt like a treat. We decided to buy a smoothie each from a shop in the mall – I got banana and he got mango. They were absolutely delicious, and the service was great – prompt and courteous.

The next time we were at that mall, we were looking forward to going back and getting another smoothie. So, we wandered up. The assistant this time was poorly groomed, and distracted – she actually had to return to us – twice – to ask us to repeat our order because she couldn’t remember the flavour/sizes!

When we finally got our smoothies, we walked away… until I took a sip of mine. It was terrible! Watery, tasteless – and when I moved the straw around there was a big chunk of ice cream just sitting in the bottom. I turned around and took it back to the girl, explained the situation, and she took it back grumpily. She apparently did something with it – but when I got it back it was scarcely better than before! I gave up at this stage though, because she obviously couldn’t care less about us or our order.

Again, do you think we’ll be returning to this shop? Nope. The actions of one staff member in one moment has lost them two customers, and possibly others that we tell not to bother.


Always Give Your Best

Let’s be honest. We all have times and days where we really don’t – in the moment – care about the feelings or experiences of our customers. We are too caught up in our own head, for whatever reason, to think about someone else.

But in that moment we may make a mistake that loses us a customer forever.

Sure, we’re not perfect – but we should always strive to do and be our best, and treat customers with the care and respect they deserve, and then hope they spread the good word for us.

People say to me ‘gee, it must be great to not have a boss’. I smile and reply – ‘but I do – every single one of my customers is my boss’.

Without them, I wouldn’t have a business, or a livelihood.

So – do you have a customer service story similar to mine?

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