AT RANDOM: Rebuilding relationships
It may be April Fool’s Day, but the subject I’m about to impress upon is (pardon the pun) no laughing matter.
I’m talking about business – both on the company and consumer side of things.
Gone are the days where doing business is simply an exchange of money for a service or product.
A struggling economy is putting a strain on businesses, while consumers are pulling back their purse strings. Therefore business transactions are evolving with the times.
The situation is getting better, but the past few years have left a mark on the business world and changed the way consumers think.
While the primary goal of providing/obtaining a service still remains, there is a lot more being taken into consideration for both the consumer and business.
Faced with rising costs, many businesses are forced to pass a price increase onto their customers (did you hear that the cost of chocolate is going up 10 per cent as Hershey offsets its rising costs? And how convenient, just in time for Easter).
Meanwhile on the consumer side, people are taking more caution before spending their dollars due to their own cutbacks.
Purchasers are taking the time to check nutritional labels and ingredients on products. They’re searching out locally made goods in an effort to support neighbouring businesses (and the local economy). They’re doing more research, not just in terms of prices, but in terms of quality.
But perhaps the biggest factor when it comes to a purchaser’s decision is customer service.
Everyone has a mental list of star businesses who they reward with repeat service thanks to exceptional service. But we also remember all those who have treated us unfairly, been hasty or harsh.
I hate to be the one to say it, but it seems like the economic downturn has forced a lot of bitterness onto the business/consumer relationship.
Not all, of course, but some businesses are taking their cuts out on customers while some customers are taking their frustrations out on businesses.
We all understand that everyone is struggling, but isn’t it easier to attract flies with honey than with vinegar?
Obviously no one is perfect, we all have bad days where perhaps we take our personal stresses out on someone else.
My job is no different. In the fast-paced world of a newspaper there’s a revolving door of news stories and photos that I deal with. Sometimes the workload gets to me and I am wrongfully short with someone. Or in my haste to get everything done I miss something or make a mistake.
Sometimes it’s hard to admit that you’re wrong, but I’ve learned that a sincere apology sure does help.
That being said, customers aren’t perfect either. We tend to make knee-jerk reactions when we don’t get what we want. Obviously customers have a right to demand quality service at a reasonable price, but there is a right and wrong way to go about it.
It’s also important to recognize when a business goes above and beyond. A quick call to say thank you, a short note showing your gratitude, any sort of compliment goes a long way.
I know that whenever someone has complimented my work or something nice I’ve done it’s the highlight of my week. It also prompts me to pay it forward and pass on a compliment to someone else. What gets rewarded, gets repeated.
My mother always said, ‘what goes around comes around,’ and the same is true in the world of business.
Jennifer Smith is a reporter for The Morning Star.