Whether you work in a medical office, grocery store, or restaurant, if the business’ main purpose is to provide a service or product to people then you have customers.  Customers are the lifeline of any business as without them the business does not exist.

It is the customer service they receive that can make the difference in whether people come back to your place of business or another who offers the same service. Having a choice is great especially if the service is bad, as in my Kinko’s story.

Several years ago, I needed to have thousands of copies made for a conference I was overseeing (this was before the digital handout age).  There was a Kinko’s printing store was just down the street from my office, so it was very convenient for me to use their services, which I had be doing for years.

I went to Kinko’s on my lunch hour with originals of handouts that I needed to be reproduced.  I told the young man at the counter what I needed, as he looked over some of the copies, I handed him.  He then told me that the pictures on the handouts would look better if I uploaded them to the Kinko’s website and placed my order that way.

I thanked him for his concern and told him that it would be just fine if he copied them, as I had done this many times before and the copies were just fine.  He again told me, in a stern way, that I should upload them for better quality.

We went back and forth over this a few times when I finally said, “Are you going to print these for me or not?”  He pushed the copies back at me and wrote a web address down and told me to go back and upload them.

I was shocked.  I had over a thousand dollars in printing to be done and this clerk was turning the job away for his company.  I asked to speak to the manager and this clerk told me he was at lunch.  I went back to work and told my co-workers the story, no one could believe it.  When I went to the website, he gave me it was Kinko’s, but in a foreign language.

I promptly called Kinko’s and asked to speak with the manager.  I told him of my experience, and he said that he had some complaints about this clerk before (apparently there was no discipline or further training involved).  I then told him that I lecture all over the country on customer service and every chance I get I will tell this story of poor service by Kinko’s as an example of how to lose customers for your business. I have never used Kinko’s since and have told the story many times.

Customers have needs they expect to be met when they patronize a business.  If you want to win their loyalty it is necessary to understand what it is that they are looking for and be able to provide it at the highest level on a continual basis.

When people leave our place of business, they have a story to tell of what their experience was with us.  It will either be a raving review, nothing much to mention, so they don’t, or a bad story about the service or product they received, which makes for great stories to tell. I’m sure you could probably tell a few bad service stories yourself.

The question you need to ask yourself is what kind of stories are your customers telling about you?  Is it time to step-up your customer service?

Happy Thursday!