Is your customer important to you?

One of our local pizza chains doesn’t appear to care very much about their customers. When someone calls to place an order there will always be a recorded message that plays on until someone actually picks up the phone. The same message keeps looping telling you about the specials (they’re always the same) and encouraging you to order online  so “you’ll even know the name of the driver delivering your order.” I’ve seen waits of up to three minutes before someone actually answers. Sometimes the person actually knows what they’re doing; sometimes they don’t. The credit/debit card machine has had an out of order sign on it now for several months. I always pay cash, but still…. This place is about a five minute drive from my house.

There’s a locally-owned pizza place about a 20 minute drive from my house. Seldom does the phone ring more than 2-3 times before someone answers. They take my order, and by the time I drive there the pizza is ready. The drive is longer, and the pizza costs more, but guess which one I prefer going to. I like going where I feel my business is appreciated, and I think most people do.

Several years ago a local businessman published a little book titled Our Toilets Are Not For Customers in which he talked about the importance of providing good customer service. He said he went into many small businesses and saw signs stating that their toilets were not for customers or that they had no public toilets. What kind of message does that send to customers? It certainly doesn’t send a message that this is a place where their business is appreciated.

How many times have you stopped at a gas station to use the restroom and had to ask for a key? When they handed you the key it was attached to a three foot long stick or maybe a car tire. OK, I’m being a little facetious here, but you get the picture. In some cases they should have attached it to a can of sanitizer! You definitely get the feeling they don’t want you using their restroom, so I don’t anymore. I also don’t buy their gas. When we are traveling we stop at one of the major truck stops. Their restrooms are always accessible and clean, and there is food and drink to help get on down the road. Again, I do business with people who seem to appreciate my business.

What kind of message do you send your customers? When they do business with you do they feel that you appreciate it? Do you make it easy and pleasant to do business with your company or have you built up walls that make doing business with you unpleasant? People today have more options than ever before, and most of them are going to choose to do business with those who make it easy and enjoyable to do so.

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