Small town customer service

I can see now why John Mellencamp was so proud to be from a small town. There seems to a slightly different approach to customer service (among other things) which is refreshing and surprising if you aren’t ready for it.

While tending to some family business in the sleepy little town of Harbert, MI, my wife and I were on the hunt for some plants. Nothing fancy, but we had a small porch that needed sprucing up. After a quick search on the iPhone, we realized there was a nursery right around the corner. Since it was after 5 pm, I called to see how late they would be open.

A very nice gentleman with a deep “James Earl Jones” type voice answers the phone. I ask their hours, and he says very politely, “are you coming over now?”. At first I thought it was an odd question, until he revealed that he thought I was someone else; someone he was already expecting. When that got cleared up, he said, “well, we usually close at 6, but if I know you are coming, I can stick around.”

This is honestly much different than the responce I usually hear. It is usually much more emphatic and unwavering. Right off the bat he is being flexible and accomodating… Which was nice, but a little surprising. He was already looking out for me, which made me want to look out for him.

I told him we were on our way, but if he didn’t see us by 6, don’t hang around.

Granted there are a few differences between the circumstances of big city and small town service interactions. In a small town you usually have fewer people and a more laid back atmosphere, which any service provider will tell you immediately makes the job easier. However, the big difference in this case had nothing to do with the service in the store- it happened before we got there.

The difference is caring. Caring not just about the sale and making the right change, but caring about the customer. Caring about them as a person, not as a walking wallet.

What’s more important to YOU as a consumer? If you value the way you are treated, you can bet that your customers feel the same way. Unfortunately, we don’t spend nearly as much time on that aspect of an employees performance as we do on upselling or even product knowledge. The thing that we want most as consumers is what we spend the least time on training and reinforcing with our employees.

Does that make sense to you? If not, I think you just figured out your next “to do” when you get back to work.

Thanks for reading!!

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