Any business must make it a priority to focus on providing excellent customer service, along with an appealing presentation.
Several years ago, I remember sitting in a sales seminar and the speaker was making a point about the importance of presentation. He painted a vivid picture with his words, describing a favorite meal being served at a fine restaurant. He then told the class to imagine the waiter serving this fabulous meal on a garbage-can lid. Anyone hungry?
The lesson learned here is that even the finest meal is not desirable if it is not presented in a clean, comfortable, and appealing environment. The food industry is subject to health inspections on a routine basis. The inspection results are published in newspapers as well as online, for public viewing. It is imperative for anyone working with food products to make sure their facilities and workers adhere to high standards of cleanliness and presentation.
What about non-food businesses? Should they worry about presentation? Absolutely. Most consumers like to deal with organized people and businesses. While things can get hectic at any business, it sends the wrong message if someone is working with financial or legal matters and you can’t see their desk. Being busy does not have to equate with having your office look like it’s located in a college frat house.
Ever walk into a retail store and look for a product that should be “right there,” but it’s buried under other stuff? It can be frustrating enough to cause you to leave without making a purchase, which is costly to the owner. Paying attention to presentation details is very important. That includes having neat and clean racks and floors, uncluttered aisles and doorways, shoveled walks and plowed driveways, and attractive landscaping. Even if this is included in the rent, it behooves the owner to make sure the maintenance is acceptable.
As for customer service, you can’t just talk about it — you must live it, breathe it, and own it. Lead by example. Your whole work force is an extension of your business, your brand. If you own the place and set the expectations high, then your workers will notice the example you set. They’ll notice your example whether it is good or bad. Don’t show up late if you want your staff to be on time. It’s important to call people by their name, and treat them with the same respect with which you want them to treat your customers.
As a teenager working at an ice-cream store, I learned a life lesson that I still remember to this day. The owner came into the store and I started to tell him about a customer that had been in earlier. Other customers were in the store and could hear me. He quickly escorted me into the back room and instructed me never to discuss customers in front of other customers. Great advice from an excellent leader. Unfortunately, I notice that rule being broken on almost a daily basis in various businesses.
Good customer-service habits should never “take a break.” Even on the phone, someone can hear a “smile” in your voice, or worse, disinterest. You never know what turns people off unless they tell you in person, or online, using social media. It’s so hard to get and keep good customers but so easy to lose them.
When it comes down to it, shouldn’t we all give a good presentation to others every day?
Article published in the BJNN March 2018
Michael Cartini is a Certified Business Advisor at the Small Business Development Center located at Onondaga Community College. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org