This column is not about dispensing eyewear frames; it is about how you frame the customer in your mind. What are your presumptions, and how do these presumptions influence your attitude and behavior toward them? If you are of the school that the customer should always be treated with dignity, and that you are the ambassador for the business with an edict always to be helpful and courteous, then bravo to you! If being annoyed and combative is your approach, then you are a detriment to the practice/store. In a social media post, an optical retail employee gloats about a customer arriving at the store to find it empty and closed. The customer had called to say they were running late but were on their way. The employee let them come ahead instead of informing them that no one could stay after closing if they arrive too late. What made the episode worse is the glee the employee expresses at the customer’s frustration. The capacity to put the customers’ best interest and comfort first are paramount in any retail business as business owners try to build and hold onto their piece of the retail pie. For those who think that deriding the customer is justified, please do the retail owner or practice owner a favor and find another job where you do not interface with the customers! If you are a retail owner, the following statistics emphasize the importance of positive customer experiences on customer retention. According to Bain and Company, you are four times more likely to lose a customer to the competition over bad service than due to price or product-related issues. Financial Training Services reports that 96 percent of unhappy customers don’t complain, but 91 percent of those will leave and never return. It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience, says Ruby Newell-Legner in “Understanding Customers.” A study by McKinsey Research shows that 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. And 55 percent of customers would pay extra to guarantee better service. You’ve worked too hard to build your business—don’t let bad customer experience erode your customer base and your reputation.
• Deborah Kotob