Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I'm Your Customer, Not an Interruption

(1:05) "A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so." That is a quote from Mahatma Gandhi.

(0:54) We once had a very bad experience pulling into a marina. It was our first time in the harbor so everything was unfamiliar. In addition, we were trying to get in ahead of a bad storm that was approaching. For nearly 30 minutes we hailed the marina on the radio and called on the phone with no response. When someone finally showed up, instead of an apology I was told that this was a "no complaints" marina. Following up with the management we suggested that employees carry handheld radios only to be told, "If they had VHF's, they might be interrupted when they were doing something else, like cleaning the bathrooms." That's a direct quote. I still have to stop and shake my head when I read that.

(0:36) I am not an interruption. I am your customer. Ultimately, you work for me and I pay the bills.

(0:32) There is nothing, absolutely nothing, that is more important than responding to and helping boaters coming into your marina. Would a restaurant not seat a customer because they had onions to chop? Would a retail store not ring in a purchase because they were organizing the racks?

(0:25) Of course, this an extreme example. However, there are a hundred smaller more subtle ways that customers are treated like interruptions. Not breaking off a phone call when a boater walks into the marina office or stopping other tasks. If someone can't always be at the front desk, have a bell sound or some other way help can be quickly summoned.

(0:16) If you see a boater wandering around the marina with a trash bag in hand, stop what you're doing and walk over to show where to put it. Or take it from his hand and put it there yourself. Answer questions courteously even when you think they are silly or obvious. Always treat the boater better than they expect and do more than you have to do.

(0:08) Yes, I know that budgets are often tight, staffing is sometimes short, and everyone has too much to do. But without the boaters coming in, there would be nothing to do at all.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.