BIZTIPS - May 25, 2008

by Art Hill

Biz Tips: Lets Give Every Customer Top Service

Sunday, May 25, 2008

When I mentioned that I had recently experienced great customer service, my daughter observed that our dog Gromit is a master of the first principle “Greet the Customer!”  While not all customers respond well to a lick on the hand, all respond well to a greeting. 

At a recent SBDC customer service workshop sponsored by the Wallowa Chamber of Commerce, front-line staff, supervisors, and business owners got a chance to experience good and bad customer service, learn key principles, and run some exercises that brought home the business value (revenue gained or lost) of exceptional customer service.

Here are just two examples, one from the workshop and one since.  A car repair business owner in Massachusetts was praised by Inc. Magazine in 1994 for exceptional customer service and how it went straight to his bottom line.  When we googled that business 14 years later, there were three customer evaluations on an independent website.  Two are 5-star and one is 4, and the first one begins “This is how all businesses should be run.”  Think that impression of your business would boost sales?  You bet it would.

Example two. A local business facing a trade show deadline next week called their website merchant bank for a card imprinter and a company name change on the imprint slug.  The customer service agent got the rep for the account, the rep e-mailed a name change form that was completed, signed, scanned, and returned immediately.  The imprinter and new business name slug shipped by 2-day express that same afternoon.  Think that business would pay a few cents more on each charge for that kind of service?  You bet they will.

So where does good customer service start?  Sometimes it starts at the “front line” with the person who faces the customer.  Sometimes it starts with the supervisor who knows and demands good customer service.  But the key to customer service success is the business owner who makes it a “way of life” in the business, setting the bar high, setting the example.

The Travel Oregon Tourism Commission has just released its on-line “Oregon Q-Care” (quality in customer service) program.  It’s free, self-paced, and available at their website:  It’s also  right on the mark with basic customer service principles and examples.  For more information on workshops in our region, contact your Small Business Development Center.  For a reliable greeting and lick on the hand, contact Gromit.

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