After a late meeting with a potential customer, my wife and I decided to get a quick roast beef sandwich around the corner at Arby’s.  It was almost 8:00 and the place looked deserted. 

When we entered the restaurant, we were welcomed by the manager or his assistant. Well, welcomed is a stretch. While he wasn’t ugly to us, friendly is not the adjective I would use either. He never smiled. It almost felt like we were an inconvenience. 

I realize people get tired and you can’t be “up” all of the time, but courtesy is really not that hard. 

This manager could have had us in the palm of his hand. Customers for life! And actually, I think a little effort to make the customer feel special would have resulted in a higher sales amount or a return visit in the near future. 

The radio news reported that some local restaurants will be closing after Christmas because of the economy. While I know this is a tough time for business, I also observe that many businesses are doing well. I think “customer service” is a key factor in their survival. 

Being courteous is contagious. Knowing your customer’s birthday or the names of his wife or children will make you a standout. Delivering goods or services ahead of schedule will make you remarkable. And giving your customers more than they are expecting will cement you into their brain cells. 

As our economy recovers, many say things will never be the way they were. I hope one of the things that disappears is rotten customer service and the attitude that some business is doing me a favor instead of the other way around. 

Last Monday, I took advantage of an offer to renew a business magazine subscription that had expired. They were practically giving it to me! I sent a check on Tuesday by snail mail to a post office in Iowa. Of course, Thursday was Thanksgiving. On Saturday, I received the latest issue of the magazine and the issue I had missed after my subscription expired. 

I was blown away! Even a week later, I have had trouble getting this experience out of my mind. (Hence, this blog.) That is the kind of customer service that has made this publisher successful. You can explain it away with talk of automation, but for me that kind of impression is unforgettable. 

Make an impression today. The customer is the most important person your business has. Without him, your business doesn’t exist. Every day is Thanksgiving to businesses that understand the value of customer loyalty.

Photos copyright 2010 Jim Lockman/Click!

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