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Make customer service everyone’s first priority

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

Have you ever tried to be less concerned with what you’re going to get and think more about what you’re going to do? As business leaders, it’s our job to make good things happen for people – both customers and employees.

Well then, give ’em the pickle!

Bob Farrell, who started Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour and Restaurants, pioneered the “Give ’em the pickle” customer service concept when “a disgruntled customer sent a letter to complain that he was no longer going to patronize the restaurant because for years he had received an extra pickle with his food but was asked to pay for the extra pickle by new waitress.” Since then, the rallying cry of Farrell’s company has been around “Give ’em the pickle.” It’s about ensuring that every employee in your shop or company makes serving others their No. 1 priority. The pickle is the extra thing that you can do to make people happy.

In the article “Focus Your Culture on Service Excellence” by Erica England, she writes: “Managing expectations is important, but exceeding client expectations is essential to growing your business. There’s a definite correlation between a company’s success and how its culture focuses on service excellence. Those who stand out in clients’ minds are always looking for new ways to enhance their offerings, exceed satisfaction, and ultimately grow as a team.”

In his Quality Digest article, Mike Albert, CEO of Satisfaction Services Inc., wrote: “My company conducts thousands of quality and service evaluations every month in a variety of industries, and we often inquire about consumers’ attitudes. What we’ve learned is that consumers’ expectations are low. They feel that if they can get through a purchase process or have a meal and return home without being too badly abused, they’ve had a pretty good day. What an opportunity for you! Offering even the slightest positive service experience to your customers comes across as a big thing, and if you do a big thing, people can’t stop talking about you to others.”

Farrell also is quoted as saying, “Leaders are those who serve the people who serve the customer.” In Fortune Magazine’s annual “100 Best Companies To Work For” articles, the consistent message with each of the companies is that the organizations truly value their employees and satisfied employees drive up satisfaction and retention levels. Employees want and need certain things from you as their leader. If they get them, they’ll follow you and achieve great things.

The key learning points of “Give ’em the pickle”:

• Service – Make serving others your No. 1 priority. You work in a noble profession, be proud of what you do.

• Attitude – Choose your attitude. How you think about your customers (and employees) is how you will treat them.

• Consistency – Set high standards and stick to them. Customers return because they like what happened last time.

• Teamwork – Look for ways to make each other look good. In the end, everything ends up in front of the customer.        

• • •

From 5 to 7 p.m. today, join hosts Exceed Flooring, 5186 Northwest Highway, Crystal Lake, as they hold their annual mixer to support breast cancer awareness. Then on Sept. 24, join Colonial Café, 5689 Northwest Highway, Crystal Lake, as they host an after-hours mixer from 5 to 7 p.m. All Chamber members are encouraged to attend for great relationship-building opportunities.

• • •

Please welcome our newest members! ABC Supply Co. Inc., Duane Hinker; Advanced Dental Solutions, Mistie Norten-Hill; Armns Pest Management Inc., Al Orcutt; Botto, Gilbert, Gehris, Lancaster PC, Marci Pena; Chazio’s Hair Salon, Charles Nelson; CMN Specialist, Mike Dankert; Coldwell Banker Honig-Bell, Jesus Macias; First Smiles Dental, Colleen Schuh; General Mitchell International Airport, Patricia Rowe; Harrison’s Finishing Touch LLC, Matthew Harrison; Just Pure Yoga, Cari DeFlorio; Lark Creative Studios, Laura Kohlbrand; Pilates Body by Kirsten, Kirsten Karlblom; Probody Massage Therapy, Agata Innamorto; RedTail Golf Club, Chris Neuhart; Trademark Mechanica Inc., Mike Vito.

• Gary Reece is president of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce. Email 

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