The golden rule for every businessman is this: “Put yourself in your customer’s place.
Orison Swett Marden
My mother owned and operated a laundromat and dry cleaning business, in spite of her severe asthma since childhood. Her customers knew her to be a hard-working woman who they could count on seven days a week.
To digress, my mom’s children and grandchildren all knew her to be a woman of integrity. This isn’t just a fond memory magnified by time. This was who my mother was. Each of her children holds their own loving memories of her, but aside from her love for us all, I most appreciate her honesty and that she instilled that in us.
To get back to her customer service skills, the sign on her wall stated how she felt about her customers. Speaking volumes, it read, “The customer is always right.” When she trained me to use the cash register, she pointed out that sign and told me to treat her customers with respect, even if they were in a bad mood.
Sadly, this is lacking today, and many treat their customers as just a number or name. Complaints from customers are now met with excuses. How the customer perceives their experience isn’t what’s important. In the end, winning the argument, when responding to a complaint, is what’s important to many businesses.
At the end of the day, we need to get back to good customer service. Does your client have a complaint? To be fair, sometimes they have had a bad day and are taking it out on you. And there are times when they’re out of line. However, what does it cost you to listen or to find an element of truth in what they have to say?
All things considered, is sarcasm and having the last word really what’s important? My mom would have said no. Even if you disagreed, it was better to have your say in your heart. To be unkind, just to have the last word, wasn’t impressive to her at all. Kindness is lacking today, and having the last word seems to be trendy.
I loved my mother for many things. She loved her children and grandchildren, worked hard to provide for them, had a great sense of humor, and made us laugh all the time. She had the best listening ear and a great shoulder to cry on, considered an education important for her kids, and gave the valedictorian speech for her class, but she would have told you it was only because the valedictorian couldn’t make it (of course, she didn’t mention that she was chosen because of her own good grades). My mother was humble, was raised by a widowed mother, never gave into self-pity, was peaceful and long-suffering, spoke with kindness, and hated gossip.
When doing business, my mother never forgot who she was. You never heard her say, “This is just business.” Honesty was important in and out of business. A businesswoman out of necessity, yet she provided me the best example of customer service that I have ever seen.
I miss her and love her very much.