Good service expected from employees, but what about customers?

I serve on the Shawano County Humane Society board. Recently, each board member was given a list with 10 business names. Our task was to personally visit the businesses on our list and ask if they would be willing to donate a prize (gift or a certificate) for our annual fundraiser.

Admittedly, asking businesses for a donation is not a task I enjoy. I realize that our local businesses are “hit up” frequently for contributions for fundraisers and benefits. January and February are often slower months for many businesses. Knowing their profits are down made it even more difficult to ask.

The response I received from every one of my 10 visits spoke loudly about the type of businesses we have in our area. Every single business gave something. Donations included gift certificates for overnight stays, food, gas and so much more.

I am wondering how many of you take the time to write a thank you card, call the business or stop in to say “thanks” when you are lucky enough to win a prize? Admittedly, I haven’t always taken the time to do that myself. However, I am going to change that. I think a business would appreciate knowing who received their donation. A “thank you” and a visit to the business would be a nice way to let them know their generosity is appreciated.

Owning and operating a business in today’s world cannot be easy. Online sales continue to increase. Many businesses throughout our country have been forced to close their doors. Shawano is no exception.

Successful businesses focus on providing a good experience for their customers. Exemplary customer service is critical.

Working in customer service positions for many years, I attended numerous classes and seminars learning how to provide good service. I taught those skills to others. Customer service jobs are not for everyone. Most require patience, efficiency, empathy, honesty, and good conversation skills.

We all have high expectations when it comes to service, but there is another side to customer service that isn’t talked about very often. We expect good service, but are we a good customer?

I am wondering if we are becoming a society with a sense of entitlement; one that is quick to complain and hard to satisfy. Being a good patron and receiving good service is a two-way street. I have witnessed some outrageous behavior by customers. Shoppers are often in a hurry, easily irritated and sometimes downright rude! They butt in line, push and shove, make nasty comments to others and yell at cashiers.

I don’t agree with the philosophy that the customer is always right. What I do agree with is the customer should always be treated with respect. The fact that someone goes into a store and purchases a product or service does not automatically make that person a “good customer.”

There are several things we can do to ensure we are a good customer. Here are a few:

• If the business gave us credit, we need to pay our bills on time. Businesses have bills to pay, too.

• Those who serve us deserve respect. Shouting, cursing or being rude is unacceptable behavior.

• Try to remember to bring sale ads with you. It will be helpful to clerks trying to locate the item and it will answer any questions about the price.

• Businesses appreciate it if you put items back where you found them. Don’t hang clothes on wrong racks or lay something on a shelf because you decided you don’t want it. Give it to an employee if you can’t remember where you got it from.

• Businesses that accept checks normally request valid identification, so have it available.

• Are you patient when standing in a line, or are you sighing, groaning and using inappropriate language? Also, are you in the right line? If the sign says 10 items and you have 20, do you go there anyhow because the line is shorter?

• If you have your children with you, do you have them by the hand or near you, or are you allowing them to run around in the store disturbing other shoppers?

• Don’t try to check out in a closed lane. Entering a closed checkout lane is sending the message you don’t respect their directions.

• Service providers appreciate a smile and a kind word. Don’t make your bad day their bad day.

• If you have an appointment at a hairdresser or other business, be on time. Very often, their schedules are full.

Next week, I will talk about things businesses can do to provide exceptional service to their customers.

“Trade your expectations for appreciation, and your whole world changes in an instant. “ – Tony Robbins

Question: In what year was Phenix Manufacturing established in Shawano, and who was its founder? (Answer on Page A5.)

Clothesline Conversation Answer: Established in 1958 by E.J. Fellman

Lorna Marquardt is a former Shawano mayor.