Women at Work: Customer service makes a big difference

I have been sick for the past week; sicker than I have been in a very long time. On top of a bad sinus infection, I also have pink eye.

On the same day I needed to pick up my prescription, my aunt also had to pick something up from the drugstore, so I told her I would meet her there.

When I arrived to the pharmacy, I asked the woman behind that counter if my aunt had been in (I used her name). Without any eye contact, I was met with a short, "I don't know." We live in a small town — it was not as if I had just walked in to a pharmacy with a line of hundreds waiting and asked the same question. I am not sure why I was answered so rudely; I was the only one in the store. Perhaps she was having a bad day.

Whatever the reason, customer service is important. No matter how dumb the question or how many times you have heard it asked, kindness is key.

I can tell you I was almost relieved when she proceeded to tell me their pharmacy was out of the medication I needed, and I would have to drive to the next small town. The customer service at that pharmacy lacked as well.


Maybe it was a bad day for all women in small towns or maybe I was overly sensitive because I was too sick to be driving around the country locating pink eye cures. I guess I will return to the pharmacy I have been loyal to all these years, where they treat customers well.

What's the secret to building customer loyalty? According to Harvard Business Review, many companies focus on making loyalty a strategic priority, but fail to gain traction.

The reason is simple. Their policies and processes don't focus on making an emotional connection with their customers.

When you consider that emotionally engaged customers are three times more likely to recommend a product to others and return to make another purchase — finding a way to delight customers on an emotional level can be as important as the product you sell; and even more so when they are sick!

The most persuasive case study on the subject, of course, is Disney, which achieves an amazing 70 percent return rate in customer visits, according to the Disney Institute's book on the subject. And it's all because of Walt Disney's original promise to create happiness through "magical" experiences.

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