Customer service begins BEFORE you think it does

It’s important to be aware that service begins when a customer comes in contact with you–it doesn’t always wait for you to make intentional contact with the customer.

For example: suppose you’re the manager for the suburban superstore below –

superstore suburban broad view

Suburban superstore – broad view from sidewalk approach

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and a customer has just pulled up in front of it. When and where will her welcome begin? Well, probably we’re overlooking  important parts of her welcome that happened even before she pulled in: She googled the store to find the nearest location and related information. How smoothly and appealingly did that interaction go? Was she able to see a professional, appealing photo of your store (and, if appropriate, you) in the search results? Were your hours and services clearly stated?

Then, as she pulls up to your store, she begins to contemplate what doing business with you is going to be like. And, she infers your traits from a thousand things around her: the condition of the asphalt,  the condition of the buildings and objects that abut your store (why are some of the newspaper dispensers full of garbage, apparently months-old, some of it wrapped in a bag from that self-same superstore?), the condition of your store’s facade window (“Why is it so dark in there? Why is so much of their window space obscured with boxes leaning precariously?”) Clearly, her visit with you has already begun — and you haven’t met her yet! If bad first impressions are building up, you’ll have a bear of a time undoing them–once you finally meet her.