I am a loyal customer. If a business treats me well, I am quick to patronize them on a regular basis. I was raised on good customer service, learning from my father (a retired Realtor) and my maternal grandmother (a waitress) that repeat business is not only the lifeblood of a career, but in some cases, the foundation of lifelong friendships.
I am consistently surprised that so many businesses fail to realize the value of courtesy and a smile. When I walk into my local Starbucks, I am treated like a returning friend. The baristas greet me with a smile, they know my order (I always get the same thing, varying only the size)
and they make me feel as though my business matters. Consequently, I patronize their store regularly. It's no coincidence that my occasional treat has become a daily habit.
Yesterday, one of the baristas was telling me about the bakery his mother is opening this week. Before I left, he gave me a flyer, which I'll either pass on to a foodie friend or post in our faculty room. The next time I'm in the area, I'll stop in to visit that bakery not only because I like bakeries, or because I want to support a fledgling business, but because I feel a connection to it on some level.
I am just as responsive to poor customer service, though in a completely opposite manner. It's been at least three years since I patronized the grocery store nearest my home thanks to a rude clerk. Daily, I bypass a lunch spot near my office because a staff member completely ignored my daughter and me as we stood at the counter one day last summer, waiting to place an order. A simple, "I'll be with you in a minute" would have earned her boss hundreds - perhaps even thousands - of dollars in continued patronage. Instead, I choose other locations where I am not only greeted, but greeted with a smile, and treated well.
My daughter rolls her eyes, deeming me overly sensitive. And perhaps she is right. Or, perhaps she is a preteen who doesn't yet have disposable income, let alone a desire to funnel it in the direction of people who take the time to include the niceties.
To all those of you who greet the public, who take the time to make us feel welcome and therefore more willing to part with an increasingly smaller amount of expendable income, please know that your extra efforts are not only noticed, but appreciated. And the next time a customer comes in and treats you poorly, I hope they won't discourage you from continuing to make the extra effort it takes to give service with a smile, because that's one of the reason you have "regulars."