Last night we decided to venture out and visit a couple of new places. We were kind of bored and we had been talking about the fact that whenever we want donuts, all of the donut shops in our area are closed. Now, I’m a substantial gal, but contrary to what some might think, I do not eat donuts regularly. I really only like to have them once in a great while. So, when my daughter found a 24-hour donut shop in a nearby community, we decided to take a short trip and check it out. We like to try new things when it comes to food and visiting new places, it wasn’t out of the ordinary for us to do this. My sister was with us and she was looking at other things that were available in the area and found that there was a pizza place we also wanted to try. So, we set our sights on pizza and donuts as a way to round out what was a pretty stressful and challenging week (Not the best coping method, but it is what it is).
First, we had ordered a pizza and set up curbside delivery. This should have been easy, but as things sometimes go, we ended up at the wrong location waiting for a pizza that was being prepared at a store that was about ten miles away from where we were. The manager was quite gracious and instead of making us feel dumb about our mistake, he offered to quickly make a pizza for us free of charge. He said, “It happens a lot, so please don’t worry. We’re happy to fix it up for if you can hang out here for a few minutes.” And so, we waited and before long, our pizza was ready and we were on our way. What could have been a bad experience turned out to be a pretty decent interaction. We will likely visit this restaurant again.
Second, we were hopeful that our trip to the donut shop would at least net us the treats that we had wanted when we set out. I’d heard good things about this particular place and I was interested in seeing if their donuts were as good as what I’d heard. When we got there, it wasn’t necessarily busy, but there was a rowdy group of young ladies sitting at a table in the middle of the store being loud and unnecessarily boisterous. I don’t know if it was the result of a sugar high or if they were just rude, but it made the visit uncomfortable from the start. As we stood there waiting for our turn, the people behind the counter seemed less than enthused. Finally, one young man barely whispered at me to ask if he could take my order. When I figured out what he had said, I stepped up and told him we wanted to get a half dozen and that we would like them in a box. Okay, so far, so good. We tried to tell him what we wanted quickly, but having never been there, we weren’t familiar with all of their donuts and we wanted to get the ones that looked decent. There was a large man blocking half of the counter, so we could really only choose from one side. And as we were ordering, several people piled in and the line became rather long.
Now, my sister was getting a separate order for her and her son, so she was waiting her turn behind us and there was a group of scantily clad young women behind her. The other young man behind the counter was freed up and although he could clearly see that she was still waiting, he looked right through her at the girls behind her and said, “Can I help who’s next?” She started to step up, but the lead girl in the other group also tried to step up. My sister said, “I’m actually next,” and stepped up to order. I watched as this young girl gave her a dirty look and acted like it was my sister who had been the rude one. I already had my donuts, so my daughter and I moved closer to my sister and stood between her and the group of girls. I was so mad at their reaction that I worried we might actually have some sort of an altercation. I generally don’t fight in donut shops…or anywhere else for that matter. But, these rude children (they were likely older teens), had really reacted so stupidly to having to wait their turn that I felt like turning around and giving them a stern lecture on respecting their elders. The boy behind the counter didn’t make things any better. He acted as though my sister had really cramped his style by having him do his job and not allowing him to participate in a big donut flirting session with these gals. Needless to say, we won’t be going back. It doesn’t matter how good your donuts are if you’re all rude and ridiculous.
Both visits really surprised us. One we thought would be disastrous, but turned out great. The other we thought would be great, but turned out disastrous. We traveled over thirty minutes to visit a couple of shops that we don’t usually visit. One was happy to have our business. The other acted as though we had really put them out by coming into their store. Obviously, the latter was a victim of poor management and a lack of customer service training. I just wonder what goes through the minds of these business owners who fail to spend the time to make sure their workers know how to treat customers who are coming in to spend their money. There is never a point where a customer should leave your store feeling as though they were in your way or they weren’t good enough to be served by you. There is never a point where your older customers should be treated as a bother while you rush to wait on the younger clientele.
This is unfortunately a widespread issue. Lots of younger workers aren’t being taught the basics of customer service, but they are being paid as though they’ve mastered all of the skills necessary to be successful. When I was about 18, my jobs paid between $3.35 and $4.25 per hour. These were mostly grocery store jobs, but after I graduated, I was able to get a little more money working as a temp in an attorney’s office. It took me years to make $15 an hour and kids today are going in to fast food jobs starting at $13-15 an hour without a hint of knowledge about how to treat people. My first job held training sessions on customer service and we were told that the customer is always right and that if a situation comes up that we can’t handle tactfully and appropriately, we should call the mangaer for assistance. I guess they don’t do that training these days. In fact, there are many out there who entrust their business to a group of kids and then complain because they can’t retain customers or employees.
My advice to these people is to step back and think about the basic principles of serving customers. How do you want to be treated when you go out and spend your time and money to patronize a business? What makes sense to you in terms of the way a business treats its customers? When you pull up to a drive-thru window, do you think the person at the window should be playing around with other co-workers instead of turning around to take your money and greet you? Or when you come into a business, do you think that someone should say, “Hello” or “How can I help you?” When an order is messed up or your food doesn’t taste right, do you think that the customer should be told that this is their problem and not yours? Or should you do what you can to make things right to retain that customer and your reputation?
If you don’t really care about these things, then maybe you shouldn’t be running a business. And if you’re running a business, but not really present to manage the day-to-day issues, the same goes for you. Have you taught your staff how to deal with every possible scenario that might come up? Have you impressed upon those who work for you the importance of treating customers as though they have value? Have you given them adequate means of communicating urgent issues with you throughout their shifts? Have you made them feel as though they can come to you with concerns about quality or service-related issues as well as interpersonal issues between employees? Or are you just leaving things to them and hoping that they will figure out solutions to what you aren’t even willing to observe?
If you own a business, you need to be concerned with what is happening on both sides of the counter. And you need to make it a point to be more invested in the results of each day’s efforts than anyone else on your employee roster. If you don’t care, why should anyone else? I have the same philosophy when it comes to running my business. Although I don’t deal with food or face-to-face service, I still make every effort to answer emails promptly and to communicate as much as possible with the people who are representatives of my company and brand.
As a publisher, I’m tasked with keeping the brand’s identity intact and promoting the corporate entity. My authors have been told hundreds of times over that they need to take an active role in promoting the books we publish for them. The expectations are clear. And if a customer contacts me, I speak with them directly to let them know that I take their contact seriously. That’s part of the job. And if what you are doing has any value at all to you, then you should act like it does. Don’t leave your business in the hands of those who have no qualms about destroying your reputation. And if you’re the one who’s destroying it, don’t blame the ones who are trying desperately to help you hold it together.
As you can see, this is what I get from a late night pizza and donut jaunt. Next time I’ll save my gas and just make a PB & J.
Rebecca Benston is the owner of Higher Ground Books & Media and the author of over twenty titles currently available through Amazon and other outlets. Her books include a mystery series (The Rona Shively Stories), empowerment resources such as Wise Up to Rise Up, Don’t Be Stupid (And I Mean That in the Nicest Way), and From Judgment to Jubilee, children’s books including Grumble D. Grumble Learns to Smile, All the Scary Things, and See How Strong You Are. Benston lives in Springfield, Ohio with her awesome daughter, Mya and enjoys traveling, reading, writing, and telling it like it is. She enjoys being able to help other authors get their stories out there through Higher Ground and has recently expanded her freelance services to offer more extensive guidance as a writing coach and social media manager. For more information, you can contact Benston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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My name is Rebecca Benston. I’m a Christian. I’m a woman. I’m a mother. I’m a writer. I’m a thinker. When I write fiction, I am usually writing a mystery series called The Rona Shively Stories. My P.I. character, Rona Shively is feisty, fearless and fabulous and is usually caught up in something she doesn’t want to be caught up in. In addition to this series, I also have a blog called Higher Ground for Life. Through this blog, I’m hoping to reach women or anyone who is seeking to develop a relationship with God and give them inspiration to get out there and follow His path for their lives!
I also have a blog called Leading the Follower. This one is my favorite. I write about religion, faith, spirituality and all that goes along with it. What we believe, what we don’t believe, what we are told to believe and how society feels about believing in general. I do a lot of testifying here and some of what I say may make you angry. Most of it will make you think. Some of it will make you cry. Any of it could make you laugh. It’s really up to you.
If you are looking for practical advice, honest conversation, and no nonsense observations about living in today’s world, check out my blogs at http://highergroundbooksandmedia.com and http://www.ronashively.wordpress.com and http://www.highergroundforlife.wordpress.com and http://www.leadingthefollower.wordpress.com. And if you’re so inclined, you can purchase my books and some other great, inspirational works from Higher Ground Books & Media at http://highergroundbooksandmedia.com.