Stop Insulting Your Customers

cartoon with fuzzy image, drinking hot chocolate and sitting outside in front of a wood fire. Every customer service post says: “treat the customer the way you want to be treated.”
Have you read the newspaper lately or watched the news?  Maybe I watch too much TV but there are lots of nuts out there. Remember the last time you got bad customer service? Is it possible that the server was treating you the way he  wanted to be treated? I doubt it. He probably wasn’t paying attention which is even worse than poor service.  Remember 96% of customers who leave a business leave because of  indifference.
Don’t we treat people the way we want to be treated? We’re nice to some and not so nice to others. It’s a fact of life, not a great fact but it’s what people do. Some people don’t have very high standards.
Treating customers they way they want to be treated is what great customer service is all about. Call it the Nordstom way, call it “going out of your way”  but it’s giving the customer more than they ever thought they could get. Nordstom’s first rule, hire nice people. Their theory, “we can teach people to sell but we can’t teach them to be nice.” It sure is hard to teach people to be nice.
I was in my friend’s shoe store the other day when a sad looking woman came in and asked if my friend was throwing out any shoes; she didn’t care about the size she had lost everything in a fire. It was hard to understand her,  you could tell she  wasn’t from the United States.
My friend took the woman and her two children by the hand and without hesitation found each  several pairs of shoes. The woman said she had no money but could cook for my friend and bring her a special dish from her country  in a couple of weeks. I watched as the woman left with shoes and my  friend with no money. I said to her “you just gave away a day’s profit”, to which she replied, “what does it matter, winter is coming and they need shoes.”
A few weeks later the grateful woman delivered a wonderful meal to my friend’s house and now they’re good friends. In my mind,  this is the best of customer service. Of course we can’t always afford to do this but there are times when it’s the right thing to do. My friend has struggled with her business; the profit she makes goes into inventory. I don’t know how often she  has paid herself but  when you meet her you know she’s a special human being.  She’s just nice and never forgets what you like and your shoe size.
Last year for my birthday she sent me the most wonderful pair of boots that I knew she couldn’t afford.  I tried to give them back but she said Mama Lisbeth, you’ve given me inspiration to go on and I know I can make it. By the way as I write this my friend Celestine from Shoe Fetish continues to do shoe parties across the country. Check her out on Facebook.
To me this is the ultimate in treating customers the way they want to be treated; I felt inspired. I know a business can’t survive this way, but it’s nice to make someone else feel good. There’s also something to be said for Pay It Forward; if you haven’t seen the movie, I suggest you rent it.
As Celestine juggles school,  family and her shoe store she finds time to meet people; it looks like the right people. She was on the Wendy Williams Show last week. I can’t wait to see the show, you go  girl!

7 thoughts on “Stop Insulting Your Customers”

  1. Lisbeth: Great story. Have helped out customers in the same way. Really couldn’t afford it, but couldn’t afford not to. So glad to hear about people not looking at the bottom line, but looking at the good that can be done and the how great is the feeling about helping others. This is better than the evening news. lol

    1. Lisbeth Calandrino

      Wow it’s nice to hear from you; I can see your smiling face. How is everything? I’m going to send you a flyer for an event I’m doing in Fishers, IN. Let me know what you think. Wouldn’t it be nice if we focused on what’s great rather than what’s always wrong?

    2. Lisbeth Calandrino

      Hi Cheryl, I thought I had replied to you but I don’t see it. I can see your smiling face as you wrote your post. I hop all is well. I took my own advice today and spent several hours in the hospital with my 96 year old friend.She still has no power of attorney so I’m meeting with the social worker tomorrow to get my name on her bank account. (My friend thinks this is a good idea) I can buy her new underware and a sweater. We can then work on moving her to a nursing home. Sometimes you have to step up to the bar just because it’s the right thing to do. Thanks for the kick in the pants.

    1. Lisbeth Calandrino

      Hi Janine, it’s nice to hear from you. I watched an interview yesterday on TV about the recession. Guess what has done very well, in fact in Bloomingdales it has its own zipcode? Women’s shoes!

  2. Very inspiring story you shared. When it comes to customer service, I think a person should have loads of patience. Some have it, some obviously don’t have any. Some really has the passion for the job and some just stay because of the money. Reading stories like these should be motivation for others that good service will have you reap good rewards–and it should not be about material rewards.

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