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Wyoming Business Tips for Aug. Aug. 28-Sept. 3


August 22, 2011 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Jill Kline, WSBDC state director

"Can you help me determine what good customer service is for my business?" G.L., Laramie

This is a great question that every business owner should contemplate. How great customer service is delivered depends a bit on the type of business you have, but there are some fundamental concepts a business should consider no matter what they are selling.

Providing a great experience for the customer is my definition of good customer service. It doesn't matter if your customers are internal or external to the business -- the customer wants to feel satisfied and valued. Satisfaction and value is subjective.

It may be important to a customer to be greeted and tended to quickly or it may simply be important that your business can provide the service or product they are looking for. No matter what it is, the ability to provide a great customer experience begins with the attitude of the individual tending to the customer.

It is important that your staff has a clear understanding of what you expect of them and how they should behave.  Appropriate customer service behavior, such as acknowledging customers or good listening skills, can be taught, demonstrated and modeled. Training provides an opportunity to help staff develop a positive attitude and for great customer service to be practiced. We can also learn from our personal experiences, experiences of others or from the ol' golden rule -- treat others as you would like them to treat you.

I recently read a blog post that provided an extraordinary example of poor customer service due to an employee's attitude. It's titled "Overheard" http://bit.ly/oeApEr written by Megan Gebhart. To paraphrase, Ms. Gebhart was seated on a flight where she could overhear the attendants speaking. One attendant asked how to make the coffee and the other answered, "I just throw it in the coffee maker and when people complain I hand them the email address for customer complaints; the bonus is, they don't ask for refills."

The unfortunate moral to this story is that the flight attendant was likely thoroughly trained on how to appropriately serve the customers, but poor attitude dictated the attendant's behavior. Why the attendant's attitude was poor, we'll never know, however, this story reminds us that we must develop the skills to maintain a positive attitude in order to provide great customer service.

If you would like to brainstorm employee development so that you can hone your businesses customer service skills, contact the Wyoming Entrepreneur Small Business Development Center for confidential, free assistance.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, e-mail wsbdc@uwyo.edu or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.

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