The following story was taken from “Hug Your Customers” by Jack Mitchell of Mitchell Clothing, published in 2003. If you’re looking for a book filled with great, down-to-earth examples of exceptional service, this is the one. Following is a story that supports Jack’s thesis that every customer should be treated like family. This particular example emphasizes how not to treat a customer:
“I’m constantly struck by how many people in the service industry obviously don’t care about people. A friend of mine told me about this encounter with a local garage. He was standing outside one of the bays while the oil was changed in his car. A few other customers were waiting while other mechanics worked on their cars. A man drove up and politely asked the owner, ‘My dog ran away, and I think he might have headed this way. He’s a brown lab. Did you happen to notice a dog going by?’
The owner gave the man a cold look and snorted, ‘I’m under cars all day. I’m not looking out at the road.’
He made the man feel like a fool, when all he had to do was say, ‘Gee, I’m sorry. I haven’t seen any. I hope you find him.’ It wouldn’t have taken any longer. Do you think that man will ever become a customer? My friend was so outraged by the unnecessary rudeness that he decided right then and there he was never coming back, even though the garage was the most convenient one to his home. And think of the example that man set for his employees.
More people are outraged by moments of rudeness than they are any higher price or hiccup in process. We need to remember that it’s not just how we interact with our customers, but how we interact with everybody.