I know I’ve written about customer service in the past. Well, this time, I want to speak about small things. In particular, how welcome a company makes you feel. I have two examples (one positive and one negative) that come to mind.
This past weekend, I went to a gas station near my parent’s home to fill my car up. I decided that this would be a good opportunity to check to see if I had won "Mega Millions" at the lottery and to put down another dollar for a new ticket. (I am pretty sure that I will never win the lottery, but it’s kind of fun to give it a try and I know the money I spend supports cities and town in my state, so I get a ticket now and then).
I waited in line for a little while and presented my ticket. The sales clerk looked at me with a big frown on his face and said, "You know, you can check to see if you’ve won this on the web." Unsaid was, "Why are you bothering me with this, I don’t like you." Now, I know I can check the winning numbers online, but I wanted to get a new ticket (and a bottle of water). The sales clerk make me feel unwelcome. As I left the station, I asked myself, "why should I shop at this gas station? There are lots of places to get gas, water, and a lottery ticket." I was made to feel unwelcome and as a result, I think I’ll avoid this gas station in the future.
Now, on the other side, I went to a different gas station a few days earlier to get my inspection sticker. I pulled up to the garage and waited for the man who does the inspections to come out. When he arrived he gave me a big smile and, anticipating my questions, asked if I needed an inspection. He thanked me for coming to the station and told me it would be a few minutes and pointed me to the waiting area. When the inspection was done, he thanked me for coming and asked if he could help me in any other way - and he mentioned that as a customer I could get free air for my tires at any time. I left this station feeling welcomed and wanting to give this gas station my business in the future.
It is interesting how important your welcome can be for a customer. Think about it: A smile; a few friendly words; a thank you. That’s all it took to make a huge difference. With one encounter, I left unhappy. With the other, I had a smile on my face - and a resolve to come back.
Business is tough enough for all of us. Remind your team about the importance of a genuine welcome for customers. It will make a difference.
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