In an age where good customer service is so hard to get and business is often tough, I am amazed at how little attention some businesses pay to the first, whilst moaning on and on about the second.

Hello, can someone serve me please?

This morning I went into the village to get something from the chemist. I stood in the shop watching the staff chat with each other, and joke around whilst ignoring me. They knew I was there, they even looked over at me a few times, but no one asked if they could help. No one paused for a moment to explain that someone would be with me in a moment. No, they just ignored me until I asked if someone could sell me something. 

Sell me something. I’m pretty sure that’s why they are there….

This baffles me. The chemist is in the service business. Surely they want to make a profit? Or maybe they don’t care either way? If I had had a option to go somewhere else I would have done, but there is only one chemist shop in the place. Maybe this is the problem. 

In stark contrast to the chemist s a little cafe down the road, aptly named The Village Cafe.  Regardless of the time of day or the weather outside the staff are always happy and welcoming. It’s a nice place to go for a sandwich and a drink. A place where people smile at you, and make you feel like they want you there.

Sadly this was not always the case. The cafe been through quite a few guises and owners in the past few years, and has recently been taken over and again re-vamped by a yet another new owner. A happy, bubbly person, who has made a big difference. 

That was then, this is now

Not only is the food much nicer and the atmosphere more pleasant, but the staff are happy too. 

In the past the welcome was less of a welcome and more of an inconvenience. The owner’s tone was often short and rude. His staff were miserable, and it showed. 

Most of all it showed on Laurel, the girl behind the counter. Laurel was simply unhappy, and barely looked you in the eye when she served you. Although she did the job she was paid to do, and I always got the impression that given a chance she would have been anywhere else. 

That was then. If you go into the Cafe now you will see a very different person. You will get a very big smile and welcome from Laurel. She will ask how you are, taken an interest, look you in the eye. Laurel is happy, the rest of the staff are happy, and you know what? The customers are happy too. 

An important forgotten truth

The previous owner had forgotten one very important customer service truth: Our staff treat our customers the same way we treat them.

A fact that the new owner Viv knows only too well. She treats the staff amazingly. She looks after them, and in turn they look after their customers. They take the same pride in the place that Viv does. They enjoy their work the same way Viv does. They want you there, the same way Viv does. 

The previous owner went broke. Under Viv the business is booming. 

Interesting lesson there for us all don’t you think? Is your business the chemist or the cafe? 

Contact me

For more on developing yourself, your staff and improving the profitability of your business, please do get in touch. You can email me at, or call me on +44 (0) 7736 831151. Follow me on Twitter at @jamesnathan, connect to me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Facebook.

I look forward to speaking soon.

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