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Customer service is more than interaction

February 04, 2013

As you and your business have begun the new year, have you given thought to the customer service your business delivers? 

SAN ANGELO, Texas — As you and your business have begun the new year, have you given thought to the customer service your business delivers?

Typically, this is the time of year many businesses experience a slowdown in customer count and that makes it a good time to examine the service being delivered to your customers by you and your staff.

An examination of customer service must begin with attempting to understand what your customer expects from your business, or a business like yours, versus what you think they expect. The two are not always the same. This is where well-constructed customer service surveys can be beneficial. Oftentimes we learn our customers have different concerns and desires in customer service than we thought.

A natural assumption of business owners, managers, and staff, is that good customer service begins and ends with only the actual interaction with the customer. In other words, only how we treat the customer when we talk to them is what counts. What we usually learn is that customer service goes much deeper. In fact, a better phrase is customer experience.

Sure, when we as customers are treated poorly by staff, we have received poor customer service. That was also a poor customer experience. Now, what if the staff treated us appropriately or exceedingly well, but the business was dirty, product selection was inadequate because of improper ordering and the lighting was inadequate because light bulbs needed to be replaced? Even though we are treated well, we are not having a good customer experience.

When people shop, they are more likely to spend money in a business if they have an experience that makes them feel good about that business. If you’re shopping for furniture you probably expect all the furniture in a store and the store itself to be clean and dust free. (Who wants to buy furniture that needs to be dusted before it is delivered?)

If there is light music in the background, the customer can begin to relax. Once they begin to relax, they might begin to feel at home which is probably the location the furniture is intended. The customer experience has been good.

Safe and secure is another consideration for customers. This becomes even more important if your business is open late or 24 hours. This generally includes convenience stores, truck stops, and quick serve restaurants but may include other industries.

Customers will be looking for well-lighted stores that are clean and safe in appearance. This means that all the lights have to be working, trash cans need to be emptied regularly and restrooms spotless. All of these affect the customer experience and ultimately their decision to do business with you.

Take some time to evaluate your business’s customer experience. Use mystery shoppers to help you. They can evaluate all of the areas discussed above and provide you valuable feedback.

There are a number of ways to evaluate your customer service and we at the Angelo State University Small Business Development Center are ready to assist you in finding the best option for you.

“Business Tips” was written by James Leavelle, Business Development Specialist of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. Contact him

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