Big franchise operations need “policies” to make sure that the cookie cutter in Spokane, Washington looks exactly like the cookie cutter in Buffalo, New York.
Businesses in small towns and rural communities are built on individualized customer service. Jack’s Store in Goldendale, Washington carries more suspenders than Target because his customers expect that. Café Maddalena in Dunmsuir, California makes fine dining with little ones possible, because visiting young families request it.
The Authentic Experience visitors are craving these days is that real, people to people attention that is often in conflict with policies created to standardize customer service.
YOU can provide a customer with a blender in her hotel room to make baby formula. Holiday Inn probably can’t.
YOU can share directions to your most favorite romantic place to watch the moon rise. WalMart can’t.
When a store or lodging sets a “customer service policy” that makes life harder for prospective customers, like refusing to put cribs in rooms or to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for a young diner, they are saying, “We don’t want or need the business of this sector of the public.”
They are also giving their approval for that policy to go viral, as unhappy people share their experiences on Internet review sites.
The question rural business owners need to ask themselves as they set customer service policies for their workers to carry out is, “Will this policy cause a net gain in business or a net loss?” Will, for instance, having policies that discourage services for children cause an increase in business from people who want an adult oriented environment or a loss as families stay away?
For rural business success, policies should be created to make life easier for your customer, not your workers. Policies should encourage your workers to provide the exceptional individualized customer care your customer expects and deserves.
Are your customer service policies helping you build your business?
Photo by Andres Rueda