Who has the customer service job at your company? You can have the best products, the best marketing or the best sales approach, but if your customer service team isn't able to provide the levels of service that your customers expect, you are not going to be (or going to stay) a leader in your market. Customer service that falls below your customers' expectations will cost you money, whether their expectations are reasonable or not, and no matter how those expectations were set. That's a customer service rule.

My local grocery store's service is so bad, it's insulting. The people manning the two cash registers always talk to each other when they are checking out customers. Do they say hello to you? If you're lucky. Checkout progress often stops during an interesting part of their conversation. And a thank you? Never. The cashier drops your change into your hand while looking the other way, carrying on with the conversation. And the prices aren't cheap, either, so that's no excuse. I will go an additional five miles just to avoid shopping there. I actually figured out that this nonsense has cost that grocery store around $32,500 of my business, and I can't be alone.

When I was last on vacation in Montego Bay, Jamaica, I knew there was something different about the service at a hotel where my wife and I went for dinner. I was bowled over when I saw a sign posted over the bar intended to be seen by employees rather than guests. It was the hotel's "10-5 Rule." When two or more employees of the Half Moon Resort are talking, they must discontinue conversation when a guest comes within 10 feet of them, and an employee must speak to a guest when they get within five feet. This customer service rule makes a big difference in a very competitive market.

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