We all talk about ‘Small Town’ customer service, and the ways it is supposed to help us in business. It’s great to know everybody. But what about the ones you don’t know? How are you really treating them?
Let’s talk about the ways Small Town customer service doesn’t help. I have been blessed to have both lived and traveled all across this great nation of ours, so I speak from experience. Hear me out.
I know plenty of small town people who will NOT talk to outsiders and are either openly hostile or blatantly rude to unknowns. .
~ When YOU act like WE don’t matter *by ‘WE’ I mean anyone Not included in the best names in town. I also mean travelers and passersby and people generally not from your town. We take our money elsewhere.
In a town not too far from us there is a Rexall. The ladies that run it can actually go through an entire transaction without ever uttering a word to you. Not so much as a “Hello”, or a “Drop dead”. Really. But you let someone else of so called social standing come through the door, and they will fawn all over them and chat up a storm. I can name a dozen people off the top who go an extra 26 miles to the next town over because they are friendly at the Rexall there. I can name even more who take their money to ‘the city’.
Pay attention: Our $$$$$ is just as green as theirs!
~When you don’t give us the time of day We remember. We have memories like elephants. We came to your communities for a better life. Or maybe family brought us here. Or jobs. Whatever the reason, we are among you. Many of us are here to stay whether you like it or not.
When we come into your cafes, stores, gas stations etc- give us the same courtesies you give everyone else. Come around and check on us while we’re dining. Don’t just leave us
to sit there while we watch you schmooze the five coffee drinkers you already know. Say “Hello” or “How you doin'” when we pop in for gas or grub.
By ignoring us, you hurt yourself in more ways than you can imagine.
We will take our money elsewhere
When you say something stupid we remember. And we will probably take it to social media, or blog about it. And word will get around.
I was at the market in a town near us just yesterday. I only needed some milk, but noticed there was a sale, so I stocked up on a few things. Upon checking out, the cashier bellowed (yes! bellowed in his outdoor voice) “Gawd! I hope you’re not doing this for W.I.C, and just stocking up instead. I hate WIC”” The shame of it!! (btw- cash) Nothing quite like having all eyes on you. In no way should it have mattered if it is WIC, cash, check, charge or food stamps. That is NOT your concern to shout it to the world.
Your job as owner is to make it as pleasant of an shopping experience as it can be. And your employees need to understand that THEY ARE YOUR REPRESENTITIVES and had better well act like it.
When things like this happen, and not just to me, we take our money elsewhere.
If we’re going to be treated like that, we’d just as soon go the city where at least we can get some variety while being treated like crud.
~ Do you want to know how this hurts you? It hurts your pocketbook. Trust me, a small business can’t last forever on the income from a handful of preferred customers. When you are wondering WHY you are not making a decent living or where your customers are, remember this: WE took our money to another business.
It hurts your groups that rely on volunteers. When you treat us like we don’t matter, or that you could care less, we have zero desire to volunteer for great causes because of it. I can name plenty of towns that cry they can’t get help with anything, but persist in treating everyone outside their group like crud.
We don’t donate our hard earned money to your causes. They may be really worthy events or local charities. But we won’t budge a dime when you have the gall to hold your hand out after not even speaking to us ever at the gas station.
We Leave. Pretty simple. And we take our $$$$ with us. Our disposable incomes that we could have spent with you, and our kids out the schools, and our property tax, and so on.
The reoccurring theme here is simple. Be nice to one and all. Not just some. And you will reap the rewards of repeat businsess and new people as well because we WILL tell our friends “Hey! Did you know So and so is the best around???”
I personally, planned all of my road trips from Denver to California around a stop over in Austin, Nevada. For 20 years! Why? Every business in this little bitty town on Hwy 50 has Customer Service down to a “T” ! There was never a time when I was not made to feel welcome.