A Tale of Two Bagels

August 21, 2009
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With the business environment intensifying in almost every area today, it?s essential to develop and maintain any edge you can over your competition. The way in which you treat your customers?and the way in which they perceive your company?will have a dramatic impact on your long-term viability as an organization.

Your attitude in dealing with customers can make a huge difference in your business. An inappropriate level of customer service will cause you to lose business.

There are two national bagel store chains near my house, almost exactly the same distance away. They offer the same basic varieties, the same types of cream cheese, and the same extra items. But that?s where the similarities end.

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At one store, the people working behind the counter seem as if they could care less about working there. When my turn comes to approach the counter, I?m greeted with a less-then-enthusiastic ?Next.? They rarely smile; they never recognize customers who shop there regularly; and throughout the whole experience, they act as if they?re doing you a favor by serving you.

When I leave the store, I usually feel disappointed by the whole experience?even if the bagels were great! Interestingly enough, this attitude is not limited to this one location. I have been in several other stores in this franchise, and they all exhibit the same lackluster approach to service.

Contrast this with the behavior I see at the other bagel store. The owners are enthusiastic, almost gregarious. One of them is always in the store greeting customers, chatting with them on line, and generally treating them like old friends. They call their regulars by name and frequently remember what people have ordered in the past.

When I leave this store, I usually feel up-beat and energetic. And with the two stores approximately the same distance from my home, which one do you think gets my business? In fact, I?d probably travel further or go a bit out of my way to get this kind of service.

Interestingly enough, when I mention this to the managers of both shops, I get two decidedly different responses. From the first shop, the response is, ?Well, you can fill out a comment card and send it to the district office.? From the second shop the response is, ?Thanks! We really like our work and our customers, so it?s easy for us to be enthusiastic!?

With the business environment intensifying in almost every area today, it?s essential to develop and maintain any edge you can over your competition. The way in which you treat your customers?and the way in which they perceive your company?will have a dramatic impact on your long-term viability as an organization.

Ron Rosenberg helps organizations get more customers than they know what to do with and keep them for life. For a Free Special Report with 44 Proven Customer Service tips, visit www.qualitytalk.com/tips.

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