DENNIS SEID: Yes, great customer service does exist

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

We’ve written ad nauseum about customer service – or lack thereof – and we’ll continue to do so, especially during tourist season.
Good customer service should extend not only to tourists, but to locals as well.
The Golden Rule has always been a good one: Treat others as you’d like to be treated. Seems simple enough.
Acknowledge customers’ presence. A smile, a wave, a simple “hello.”
If you’re a business owner or an employee, one way to avoid a simple “yes” or “no” answer is not to ask one of those kinds of questions.
For example, “can I help you today?” begs a one-word response.
How about, “what can I help you find today?”
Sure, you might get, “I’m just looking,” but at least it’s more than a one-word response.
Big-box stores are notorious for their lack of customer service. Raise your hand if you’ve been ignored on the sales floor and/or at the register.
While it’s rude for a customer to be on his or her cellphone while checking out, it’s just as rude if the cashier is talking to another employee or a friend and ignoring the customer.
But it’s not only big-box stores that could use a lesson in customer service.
A major turnoff? Owners, managers and employees of smaller businesses who think they’re doing you a favor by simply opening their doors.
And this isn’t an indictment on any specific business in Northeast Mississippi, so don’t start with the calls or emails, please. I’m speaking generally, from experiences in many, many places.
Also, just as annoying as poor customer service is aggressive customer service.
Some people may like to be asked early and often if they need help or if they’re finding everything OK. Others, not so much.
And trying to up-sell is understandable, but no means no, thank you.
Is there a perfect buying experience? Probably not.
But I did have a very good customer experience recently, and I’m happy to say it happened in Tupelo. And no, I won’t tell you who it was or where it was, but if this business is reading my column, it knows I’m talking about it.
I was looking for a particular piece of merchandise and had shopped a few other places to compare features and prices. I’ve been to this business before and bought stuff; other times I’ve merely looked around.
After being led to where I needed to go and given a brief explanation of the products’ features, I was left alone. The sales rep came and checked on me a few times, but it was never a bother. I should add the store was closing in 45 minutes. I could have been rushed along but wasn’t. Don’t you hate hearing “the register’s already closed” 15 minutes before official closing time?
It turned out my first choice was out of stock. But I wasn’t given the lame excuse of, “oh, we just sold the last one” and “we’ll have one probably on the next truck.”
No, it was, “we’ll get more, but the July Fourth holiday might delay it.”
I could’ve gone elsewhere, but instead, I bought my No. 2 choice there. Really, it could have gone either way; they were the same price.
Good customer service goes a long way. And it helps me decide where to spend my money.
Dennis Seid is the business editor at the Daily Journal. Reach him at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@journalinc.com.