With the advent of the computer, tablet and mobile phone, customers have gained the upper hand in determining who they will do business with.
Current technology allows us to browse for products and services and make purchases without ever having to speak directly to the business owner or his staff. It has also changed the way in which we all behave.
The ability to text allows people to communicate in an instant without inflection, grammar or emotion. In the process the true art of communication is becoming lost.
The baby boomers may be the last survivors of a race that once knew a slower pace of life where dialogue was the essence of all relationship.
The subconscious ability to interpret the body language of another may soon become extinct in a generation that only sees communication with others through a screen and a keypad.
It may be this has contributed to what I see as an increasing decline in customer service.
I think it is reasonable to assume that one cannot expect quality customer service from an inexperienced 15 year old, but this age demographic appears to be what most retail providers have hired as staff.
As a result the quality of customer service has declined noticeably. Apart from perceived savings one may obtain through online shopping, one must ask that if the decline in customer service was a contributing factor in driving people to online shopping.
I have experienced a number of people who claim that they have continued to purchase a product or service from a business, regardless of the difference in cost with the same product or service online.
It is because they enjoyed the quality of customer service they received each time they transacted with that business.
If this is in fact true, then as business owners we need to take a long hard look at ourselves.
As an owner of a business that strives to provide a high quality service, the one comment that I have frequently received from clients is that they enjoy the face to face contact with our staff.
The ability to generate an ongoing relationship can only really occur when all aspects of our 5 senses are engaged. This occurs through the greeting by way a touch from the hand shake or greeting kiss, the way we present ourselves through dress, our scent (aftershave or perfume) and tone of voice from the way we listen and respond are all contributing factors to creating a positive rapport.
But rapport is more than just the face to face in business. It is the actions that follow our interaction with a customer that can make us shine or fail.
It is for this reason that we as business owners must take a long hard look at ourselves and be honest enough to recognize when we fail, have the courage to face the truth, and most importantly the tenacity to remedy the situation.
Whilst not everyone may agree with me on all aspects of this, I hope that at the very least, it brings the issue of business etiquette to the forefront of your minds and encourages you to review how you and your business performs.