By CHUCK VANDENBERG
In heavy contemplation as we decided to roll out this new crazy digital product, one of the things (among many seemingly insurmountable things) I told myself I was going to get done, was to write an opinion piece on customer service.
This new Pen City Current adventure is a non-traditional format for news gathering that is very fast paced. My wife Lee, (who’s trying to sell this product to all of you…hint..hint..hint) came up with the slogan hyper-local, super-fresh. Fresh to me means fast and we want you to get it fast and on your media device.
The non-traditional means that I want to provide a vehicle of news to you that you may not be so used to. I want it to be a vehicle that sometimes I drive….and sometimes you do. Why? Because I think that’s the right way to do business. Accuracy, proper representation and giving you kind of a blank tablet to message to the community, I think (and we’ll soon see) works. If you can tell your story the way you want, while allowing us here to cover the hard news the way we have to, helps strike a balance in confidence and respect.
I was in the quick service restaurant business for almost 20 years and I can honestly tell you this…the customer is not always right. That’s an adage that went out with the razor strap and Olde English. But one fact is for certain, every penny you make comes from the customer, so you better do everything you can to get it right.
But I personally have had instances in this town where my money went out of town because customer service training failed and reps at those companies did not have the skill set to rectify the problem and keep that sale.
Many..and I mean MANY of you came into contact with me at KFC and it was a rare occasion that I couldn’t rectify any situation. That doesn’t mean there were some customers who’s sole purpose was free food…it happens and continues to I’m sure, but if I even sensed that a customer was leaving the store unhappy I inserted myself into that situation and regularly solved that problem and held onto that customer. Even if I had to chase them into the parking lot to fix the problem. That happened..it did and I kept them as customers.
Very rarely is it that a manager and customer can’t come to a reconciliation point and end a problem with a smile and solution.
So where did it go? Where is that top-shelf customer service that we should be getting at all of our local businesses? Is it training…is it attitude? When I held training sessions for our managers I always said you hire for attitude and train for skill. Customer service skills are marketable, in high demand and the first contact that can literally make or break a business. Some of you hit it out of the park…some have opportunities.
So as you move about our town this week. Pay attention when you are out spending some money and running your errands. Take a second look at the service you’re getting. Is it top-shelf? If it was, make sure you let someone know. Business owners and managers hear the bad stuff. Believe me, they do. But it’s really nice when someone lets them know the good stuff, too. But if it was bad….maybe you let someone know that, too.
Either way shop locally, engage with your customer base and get to know their names and faces, thank them for their business…and read the Pen City Current.
But that’s Beside the Point.