Too many business owners are relying on the old ways of doing things. Whether retail or service oriented, old clichés and techniques no longer work.
A recent trip to Universal Mall in Warren, Michigan, provided some great examples without having to look too hard. One store with glass displays cases had a two-inch by six-inch black and white engraved sign on every case stating “Please Do Not Lean On Glass.” Behind the counter was a series of handwritten signs behind the telling customers such topics as their $15 service charge on all refunds, the need for a sales receipt and period for getting a refund, and the policy that all refunds are given in the form of a store credit.
Across the hall was a store celebrating their grand opening. Amid the celebratory flags welcoming people to the new store, was a sign disallowing food and drink in the store. At the back of the small store under another grand opening sign was another sign providing the charge applied for all returned checks. The sign, printed as a lower amount, had been alter with a black marker to $25 per check. Another store owner was busy in his cell phone in an obvious personal phone call, did stop talking briefly to ask a waiting customer, “What do you want?”
Despite the message they thought they were giving, the consistent message was “Don’t do business here”. Think about the message at the first store. Is the owner telling us that he is customer focused, selling quality products, and standing behind what he sold? Absolutely not! He is telling every customer that he has had such poor quality merchandise that he must address the tremendous number of returns he experiences. And what about those signs, perhaps “For your safety, please do not lean on glass”. Then there is the new store: Have they already had problems with spilled drinks, crumbs, and bad checks? In fact, they have already had to change the returned check fee. Their signs, which are nothing more than disastrous clichés of unsuccessful past businesses are focused on the business owner, not the customer. These signs turn away business instead of building it.
Leadership at all levels requires superior customer service. Leaders look at how they can meet their customer’s needs by finding new ways to recruit them, making them feel appreciated and wanted, and building a long relationship that continually looks at creative ways to address needs on an ongoing basis.