Monday, July 16 , 2018, 8:39 am | Mostly Cloudy 66º




John Daly: Where Has Customer Service Gone?

Recently I produced a fundraiser that included the need for some custom-size loaves of bread. I went to several of the bakeries that I have patronized for the past 15 or 20 years, requiring 100 loaves, so it was not what you would call a one-off, which indeed could be very difficult.

Knowing not to pursue this with a clerk, I approached managers and owners, all long-time vendors whom I know well, and explained that this was for a fundraiser to help the students of Santa Barbara.

I let them know how very much it would be appreciated if they could help me. I wasn’t asking for a donation; I was offering to pay full retail for the 100 loaves.

The response from all of them? Not a budge; just a quick NO. They refused because they did not want to accommodate a custom order.

I am sure you can only imagine my disappointment. I could very easily dismiss this as just one of those things; however, I have seen this more and more in our small community. Why, I ask, is it that helping a customer has faded into the sunset?

On an off-chance, I stopped at Bree’osh Café, a new bakery at 1150-E Coast Village Road in Montecito, to see if they would do this for me.

Without one minute of hesitation, they had me sampling different breads to decide what I would like the best, and then had a catalog out with different sized baking pans so I could chose the correct size and shape for the loaves.

I offered to pay for the new pans, and they said, “Oh, no. We will build this into our inventory so there is no need for that.” They also insisted on charging me for only half-loaves even though I was willing to pay for full loaves due to the customization of the order.

The order was placed and scheduled for pickup on two different days so the bread would be perfectly fresh. I had asked that they include a tag with their store name on it as well as a tag I supplied with a message for the recipients.

When I arrived for the first pickup, they apologized for being behind. As they had finished packaging the bread, they had realized the tags were not facing the same direction, and the two owners, Pierre and Nellie, were in the process of redoing all of them.

The only comment was “Perfection is the only way to do things.” WOW when was the last time you heard that? 

In the classes I teach to teens, I tell them that a very important thing to say to a prospective employer is that you want the job.

Can you believe that is the No. 1 thing that is not said in a job interview?

I explain that even though I was always self-employed, every time I met with a prospective client, even if they had been a client for 25 years, which many were, I always ended our conversation with “I really want your business and will do whatever you need me to do to get it.”

I am a firm believer that was part of the reason for the success of my businesses.

I know that you have heard me say that customers are always right, even when they are wrong. This is not to be confused with you as a company not having boundaries to control your quality and respectful two-way communication.

When you have these guidelines in place, you can easily make a win-win out of every situation.

I truly do not believe that no one cares anymore about the customer. There are many companies that still do, and their places of business will flourish.

When you have customers — whether they are long-term or new ones — consideration is the key to your communication with them.

Had my long-time bakeries given me the courtesy of just discussing further and considering my request, their rejection would have been much easier for me to dignify.

No matter how many times customers have patronized you, they deserve the same respect and recognition every time they arrive at your door. That is called plain old good manners and an appreciation for the dollars — both past and present — that they bring to you.

So many new businesses begin with such a beautiful philosophy of positive customer service. Unfortunately, as they become more and more successful, due to this attitude, they forget about that customer service philosophy that made them successful in the beginning.

Sometimes a smile and a simple thank you, or an extra minute to make clients feel important and special to you, is all it takes to keep that “can-do” philosophy on track.

Bree’osh Café, 1150-E Coast Village Road in Montecito, is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Click here for more information, or call 805.705.7415.

John Daly is the founder and president of The Key Class, the keys to life skills success. Click to learn more about The Key Class, or click here to buy his book. John’s new book, 74 Key Life Skills for a Happy, Successful Life, is currently available in digital format on Amazon. Connect with The Key Class on Facebook and follow John on Twitter @johnjdalyjr. Do you have a question about business or social etiquette? Ask John at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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