Can we talk about pet peeves? I mean mine, not yours. You can talk about yours on your blog, but here I am King of my own domain. Pun intended.

One of my biggest peeves is interacting with someone in a place of business, whether it’s in person or on the phone and that person’s main job is customer service and they are lousy at it. I always think, “How did this unfriendly, non-smiling, rude person get hired for this position that deals directly with customers? Shouldn’t this person be deep in the back room buried under a mountain of paperwork and far, far away from any human interaction?”

Customer service is one of the most important aspects to all businesses. These people are on the front lines getting the first crack at delivering a good first impression to customers; customers who owners want to come back again and again, but often the customers will leave with a bad taste that defines to them what the business is all about and they are always more than happy to share this news with their friends.

Trashing a business by word of mouth is monumentally damaging. If you’ve ever sold a few things on Ebay, you know the vital importance of positive feedback and the damage brought about by negative feedback. You can have 20 positive reports, but one bad report can diminish so much of your hard work.

One bad customer experience in a place of business, whether it’s a bank, a store or a restaurant, especially if it’s a first time experience, can be the first and last for that customer. I’m sure that this is not what the owner intended.

Here’s an example for you. My brother in law, Joel and I, eat breakfast together at least once a week. We had a great place we loved. The food was delicious, portions were more than generous and most importantly, the price was unbeatable. A winning combination, huh? Almost. As creatures of habit, we always sat in the same booth on the same side of the restaurant and always got the same waitress. You’re beginning to catch on, aren’t you? You are so smart. I’m sure that the waitress is wonderfully talented and gifted at something else, but waitressing, not so much.

But we don’t get deterred easily, especially when our wallets and bellies are simultaneously being so well treated. With sharp and strategic minds and a determined resolve, we resorted to plan B. We started sitting on the opposite side of the restaurant thinking we would get the other waitress. No, I don’t have happy news to report. She tracked us down.

Ultimately we decided to forego everything we liked about the place and found another breakfast spot with higher prices and smaller portions, but with better waitresses. I’m withholding the name and location of the first place because I truly do like the owners and wish them well. I’m keeping the name of our new spot to myself because the prices are high and the portions are small and you probably already eat there anyway and they don’t need any free press.

Now before you think I’m just a critic, I’m going to leave you with something positive. I like sharing my good experiences so here’s one for you…no, make that two. Most of the auto repair/inspection work done on my two cars is done by Bill Eudy of Bill’s Automotive & Towing located at 117A Burke St in Monroe and by Monroe Service Station at the corner of Hayne St and Windsor St in Monroe. These folks are great! Bill’s prices are fair; he never does more than he needs to do and he’s just a pleasant human being.

As for Monroe Service Station, I really admire Linda Melton, the owner. Her husband, Ray, ran the station for many years until he died and I assumed that the station would close down. Instead, Linda, who was there most of the time anyway helping Ray, kept the doors open and is doing a great job. I don’t know of another gas station in the county where you can drive up, a bell goes off, you stay in the car and someone comes out to pump your gas! It’s unheard of in this swipe your card at the pump world. Linda also does NC inspections and a great variety of repair work. Hats off also to her mechanic, Johnny, who has worked there for years.

Now that you know what gripes and pleases me about customer service issues, I am interested in hearing about your experiences, good and bad. Email me at brady214@gmail.com and once I get a good collection, I will run another article and share them all with the world. So a word of warning to all businesses that deal with customers! My people are watching.

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