Customer Service – FAIL!

Yep, it’s time to talk about Customer Service.


How do people selling merchandise behind a counter expect people to come back when they can’t be bothered to offer just basic courtesy and manners?

Yes, this post is going to be a rant.  My next post will highlight a company/restaurant who has managed to empower their employees to provide an exceptional experience for their patrons, so if that’s what you’re looking for…it will post in a day or two.

Today, I just have to get this off my chest. We’ve all had retail experience, whether we’re behind the counter or we are a customer in a store wanting to buy something.

This past weekend we were shopping at a camera supply store. Most of their clientele are professional photographers/photography geeks. I get that. And yet, some of their merchandise includes a few basic “point and shoot” cameras. Not what a professional would use, but still good name cameras. I believe this one was a Nikon. The woman asked the man behind the counter a few questions and his disdain for her as a customer was absolutely palpable. He barely answered her questions, could hardly wait to get the camera out of her hands so he could call the next number (yes, we all had to take numbers in this place) and help someone who might provide him with a better commission.

How do I know he works on commission?

He actually had the nerve to say to the departing woman, “If you decide to come back and buy that camera, I would appreciate you mentioning my name. We work on commission, you know.”

My jaw dropped.

I thought there was a rule book somewhere that specifically addressed this kind of statement. Why should your customer care if you work on commission?

YOU, the clerk, need to provide the very best shopping experience for every single customer if you want to get a good commission. And not everyone will buy. That’s the name of the game. But you don’t know who that customer might be related to. They might be friends with a really famous photographer who sent them to your store hoping you’d treat his friends well. But you didn’t!

Now what? You most certainly lost that immediate sale, but you could lose even more future sales by that kind of behavior.

Before you determine that I’m being too critical, let me continue because my story isn’t done.

He called the next number…the very one I was holding in my hand.

Yep, we were his next customer.

And he saw that we were buying professional equipment for photo shoots and his demeanor changed immediately. He was Mr. Smiles and Helpfulness. He found us a better backdrop rigging system than we were going to buy originally and took time to chat us up, finding out what we like to do with the equipment.

Our experience with this man and that of the poor woman in front of us was as different as night and day.

And there is NO EXCUSE for that!

Yes, we bought the equipment, because we needed it right away.  If we didn’t, I think we would have gone elsewhere, or come back when he wasn’t working and give someone else that commission.

Folks, don’t be that obvious. You don’t have to love all your customers, but if you intend to stay in biz, make sure everyone is treated as a guest, with courtesy and a gracious attitude.  You can grumble about things at home over dinner with your family. Do NOT take it out on customers on the floor.



These are the words my daughter just shouted from the kitchen. She should know, she works 7 days a week, two jobs, going to college, and she has two bosses who are as different as night and day.

One boss can only criticize, find fault, reprimand, and continually asks for more without ever giving anything back.

The other boss found out it was her birthday, posted it all over the coffee shop where she works, and we suspect that she has ordered a specially made cake from a cake designer to help celebrate her birthday next weekend.

In addition, this boss tells her all the time what a good job she’s doing, how valuable she is to their business, and invites her periodically to have coffee, go to an event, or randomly texts her to see how she’s doing.

Which boss would you want to work for?

Which boss ARE you?

Sure, we’re really focused on getting our businesses into that healthy place where the bottom line isn’t red…but when you focus ONLY on money, you forget that your business is built on your employees and they depend on you for quite a bit.

Obviously they need money, we all do.  That’s probably the primary reason they’re working for you.

But did you know that people choose to stay at a job more for how they’re made to feel, rather than the paycheck. If they feel like they’re a valued team member, they have a lot of reasons to smile when they talk about you or their job, and they feel that they have opportunities to grow, chances are good you’ll have a really stable work force.

If you want a stable work force…make sure any serious conversations and/or reprimands are followed by a session where the employee is encouraged, coached, and made to feel empowered to make the change required.

There is a right way and a wrong way to be an employer.  Make sure you’re doing it the RIGHT way!

Every Entrepreneur is in the People Business

When you are in business, no matter what it is, you are in the people business.

What people, you ask? Every person you interact with.  And this may seem counter-intuitive to you, but treating your employees better than your clients and customers will result in a better business all around.  Treat your employees like family and they’ll return the effort a thousand-fold.

I have a friend who works for a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and she works hard. They work very long hours both in the fields where they tend to the vegetables, planting, weeding, and harvesting. They also work very, very hard preparing the bags of produce for the end customers (people like me who like to support locally and eat delicious organic local food). The last time we spoke, I asked her why she was so willing to work so darn hard and she said it was because she and her co-workers are all treated like family. Everyone works hard, TOGETHER!

That was a telling statement. I’ve known people who seemed to have truly “cushy” jobs and yet because they weren’t treated well by their bosses or managers, they were willing to just up and leave for the next possible opportunity.

Being in biz means you are in the people business  and in order to stay competitive, you must treat your people well.