In my previous life (past job) I was a Customer Satisfaction Research Consultant.  I have become somewhat of a snob because of it.  But, is it really being a snob to expect good customer service?  Too many times I walk into a store and the staff are oblivious to what is going on around them.  It's not that I want to be "jumped on" when I walk into a shop but at least acknowledge that you see me and that you are happy that I have chosen your (or your bosses) establishment to spend some of my hard earned money.

I really like the new Car Max commercials.  The one where the guy drives into a gas station and is frightened by the attendants that have come out to wash his windows, check his oil, check the air in the tires and fill up his vehicle.

Well, I remember when stations were run that way.  Now, in an effort to save money I am required to "pay at the pump" or pay before pumping my gas.   And what is with this $75 cap on my debit/credit card and then I have to run my card again? I drive a diesel pickup.  When I fill up it usually runs around $100.  Many times I have put my card in, waited for it to stop at $75 and print a receipt so I could run my card again only to find out there is no paper in the machine!   So, now I have to go into the building, get a receipt for the $75 and then go back out to run my card again, run back in and get my second receipt.   This happened to me today and when I asked one of the employees when they were going to get paper in the machines (this wasn't the first time this had happened to me) I was told in a curt voice that "the machines will be restocked when we get more paper for them."  Really?  Well, you just lost my business!

If you own a small business let me give you a little advice to give to your front line employees.  This advice comes free of charge and will benefit your business beyond belief.

1) Acknowledge someone when they come into the establishment like you are very happy to have them come spend some time with you.

2) Remember their names!!  This is KEY!  I can't tell you how this small gesture will go a long way.  Begin by calling them Mr. or Miss or Mrs. and then when you feel you have established a relationship with them then ask if you may call them by their first name. (Most times they will tell you that you may call them by their first name.)  People love to have other people say their names.  I promise.

3) I know it's hard, but try to remember what they purchased from you the last time they came in.  I used to shop at a store that remembered what clothing I purchased and would make suggestions for things that might work with the slacks or the suit that I had purchased the time before.  I loved that!

4) If you are a small convenience store and most people are just buying fuel or snacks from you at least thank them for stopping by and tell them to have a good day.

Here is another commercial from CarMax that I really like.  I'm traveling today so this is how I feel as I am typing this.

There is a line in this commercial that I want you to remember

"When did Customer Service go from "going above and beyond" to "just under and short"?

You want to stand out in the crowd?  Work on your customer service skills!