You’re probably looking at this headline and thinking it’s a typo. Right?
Well it’s not. Customer services is a small thing. At least it’s all about “small things“. In fact, it begins as a “small thing”. Let me relate a very recent personal experience with customer service that will make it clear from everyone’s perspective:
I had a very important local meeting on Tuesday evening. I needed 146 copies for the meeting, so I took the originals to a woman-owned business in our community. A few days earlier, I needed 75 copies; took it to the woman-owned company (owned in partnership with her husband) out of loyalty to our AWI “brand” and was well pleased with the service.
Tuesday afternoon at 2:30, I arrived to pick up the 146 copies. I thought the look on the young employee’s face was a bit strange, but anticipated that I had interrupted a train of thought, etc. That however, was not the case. It seems she had totally forgotten to make my copies. Even though I specifically said I needed them mid afternoon on Tuesday. Suddenly an already tight schedule just became tighter as I twiddled my thumbs (and tapped my feet) waiting for 146 copies to be made. To top it off; the young employee kept insisting it would be “just 2 minutes more” as the clock marked off nearly 15-2 minute time intervals.
Needless to say; I was not a happy camper. I noted same at the local meeting I currently chair with no qualms about identifying the company source of my frustration. I understand that life can get tough; but there was no apology for the oversight and they insisted on charging me full price as if my request to have copies ready by mid afternoon on Tuesday went unheeded!
But – and this is little compensation – it did give me fodder for a blog post. And hopefully for women in micro-business who read it, fodder for ramping up the quality of customer service they offer!
As I stood tapping my foot in irritation, I recalled the Scripture admonition that those who can be trusted with small stuff, will at some point have the opportunity to be trusted with bigger stuff. In other words, our abilities to manage small tasks – over a long haul, proves our ability to take on larger more complicated tasks.
It makes perfect sense that we can’t take on major activities and do them well until we’ve proven we can handle little tasks and complete them with near perfection. No where is this more important than in our own businesses and in terms of customer service!
So just what is ‘customer service‘? Is it “service with a smile” as one brand has said? Is it getting it right 100% of the time? Likely not.
Dictionary.com describes customer service as follows: “assistance and other resources that a company provides to the people who buy or use its products or services”.
Yet in today’s vernacular, the phrase has come to mean a whole lot more. Just saying that a company or brand is known for it’s customer service, usually means that what the products, services, assistance and other resources the company provides to it’s customers is above reproach. Not always perfect; but such that when it falls short of the mark, the response is one which leaves even the most offended customer again happy with the company or brand.
Let’s apply that measurement to the woman-couple owned micro-business with which I dealt on Tuesday:
- Was the product, service, and assistance above reproach? NO! How might it have been better? Well, having the job completed when I arrived to pick it up would have been great for starters. When that was not the case, an honest assessment of how long it would take to do the job would have been helpful as well. I could have run another errand, returned to pick up the copies when complete, thus saving me time and all of us a bit of angst.
- . So life (and business) intervenes. It happens! Even to the most conscientious business owner. I understand that and most thoughtful considerate women in business understand it as well. However, an admission that my small job was so unimportant as to have been “forgotten” means my next BIG job may go elsewhere. Better to not have owned the forgetfulness and simply said the order was not yet ready with the suggestion to run another errand and upon my return all will be done and packaged for me. Said with a smile as well!
- We’re human and we make mistakes! We all understand that truism as well. But to not own the mistake; make a simple apology for same and promise to do better next time because they appreciate my “new” business compounds mistake #1! And for the male co-owner to say nothing as he obviously supported the somewhat befuddled young employee was a bit over the top as well. I did not wish him to chastise her, either in my presence or not; but I did think he could have used it as a learning experience for her.
Customer service begins as a small thing. It’s the smile of greeting upon arriving in a bricks and mortar store. It’s the sense of a smile and warmth when greeting folks via social media. It’s straightforward, honest candid but kind remarks when things go less than perfect. It’s counting small jobs as important as the big ones – especially when the person behind the small job might just be checking out a business for much bigger jobs in the future.
Enough on this subject for one post. But it’s a big subject and one that is critically important to women in business. Especially those of us in micro-business when we are all things to as many folks as possible!
Linda S. Fitzgerald, CEO & Visionary Partner
Champion of Ordinarily Extraordinary Women of the World
A Women’s Place Network, Inc. dba
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[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://affiliatedwomeninternational.com//wp-content/uploads/2015/05/linda-google-NB-profile-pic.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]I have a ‘fiery’ passion to see women become all they are designed to be – personally, professionally and most of all – spiritually. I write, teach, mentor and coach with that passion in mind. As an author and prolific blogger, I reach out to women in all walks of life, especially women of faith to empower and equip them for greatness. [/author_info] [/author]
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