Bunker Mentality: Customer service makes or breaks a business

After I went to the Post Office the other day, I began thinking about customer service and how important it is to any business, government too.

The wait staff is the first real customer service representative at a restaurant. I donâ??t really count the person who seats you.

The other night, the Yard Sale Queen and I went to Glory Days. Our waitress, Debbie, was so pleasant, cheerful and most of all attentive to our needs. She must have been trained by Sam, one of the best waitresses ever to work in Culpeper. Now that gal could wait on tables.

A smile and cheerful attitude goes a long way in any business.

A local veterinarian said the other day that finding a good receptionist is one of the hardest positions to fill. He wants someone cheerful, positive and outgoing to great the clients and their pets. I have to agree with him on that score. Knowing each client and the petâ??s name makes for a really positive experience before you ever see a doctor in the exam room.

The same can be said for physicianâ??s offices.

Cashiers at big box stores can be very business-like as they must scan a set number of items in a specified period of time. There is little very time for personal interaction. I get that. A smile every so often doesnâ??t hurt though and goes a long way.

The other day at Martinâ??s the cashier was so jovial, gave me a big hello and of course asked, â??Would you like the milk in a bag?â?

â??No thank you.â?

Now think about that. If the sturdy plastic container doesnâ??t hold the milk, what would a flimsy plastic bag do?

But, she was at least cordial and talkative as she took my money, lots of money.

â??You have 10 cents off on gas,â? she reminded me.

â??I guess so, I just spent a fortune in here,â? I thought to myself.

The Yard Sale Queen had made several trips to various sporting goods stores in search of that perfect gift for her warrior grandson. Being the Yard Sale Queen, she looks for deals everywhere when visiting a retail operation. She is very frugal. I like that, until it comes to spending money on me. Just kidding, hon.

She finally settled on the item she wanted to purchase. I canâ??t mention what it is because itâ??s a Christmas present and her grandson can read.

However, when she went back to the store to purchase the expensive item, the salesman she was dealing with was busy. Patiently, she waited patiently because he was the only one familiar with the particular item. She waited and waited for him to finish with the customer. Finally, it was her turn. Only this time, the salesman skipped past her and dealt with two guys who showed up after her.

Let me tell you, you donâ??t want to upset the Yard Sale Queen.

She told the salesman she was next. He seemed to blow her off. Not a good idea.

â??So I donâ??t matter?â? she blurted out loudly enough for nearby customers to hear.

Yes, you matter,� he said turning his back and walking away with the two line-jumpers.

Apparently she didnâ??t matter. She fumed and said, â??Letâ??s go.â?

But being the brilliant person that I am, I said, â??Letâ??s see the store manager before we leave and explain the situation.â?

Good idea.

The store manager was attentive and extremely customer friendly. He even gave the Queen 15 percent off the item, which had to be ordered as it was not in stock.

The other day at PetsMart, I unloaded all my cat and dog food onto the conveyer at the register. Before scanning any of the items, the clerk said, â??Thanks for shopping with us.â?

I was in shock.

It takes a special talent to wait on the public. Waitresses must have an outgoing personality and the ability to size up customers quickly. Some customers are serious and want fast efficient service with little chit chat. Others are move jovial and like to joke.

Being on wait staff anywhere is a juggling act. Hit it right and a big tip awaits, but misjudge and a smaller tip or none at all may be the end result.

Sam, the top waitress at Glory Days, could teach others how to do the job. A half-filled drink was ready for a refill. She would whisk by each table and make sure everything was OK and keep a watchful eye on her customers.

Those who just let you linger are in trouble, especially if you must ask another waitress/waiter to find yours. â??Not good,â? as the Yard Sale Queen says.

Monday, the Queen had a medical procedure at the Culpeper Surgery Center. To hear her talk, the staff scored a perfect 10 and stuck the landing.

At the Post Office last week, Ron, one of the clerks, was feverishly working. He had a sign saying his window was closed but to use the next window. The next two windows appeared open with three ladies carrying on a conversation. I asked jokingly, if anyone was â??ready to work.â? That apparently was the wrong thing to say. All three ladies looked at me and went back to chatting. I guess they were discussing how to deliver the mail faster, more efficiently and cheaper. It had to have been more important than waiting on a customer.

Ron stopped what he was doing, looked up, glanced over at the chatty women and removed his â??next windowâ? sign.

â??Iâ??ll help you,â? he said.

Now Ron was customer service. I think we all know what the women think about customer service â?? those who pay their salary.

Now take Amazon, which is inundated with Christmas orders. I ordered something for the â??fakeâ? grand kids on Saturday, with standard free shipping. The package was at my door Monday afternoon.

So whatâ??s up with the post office?

I ordered something else from one of Amazonâ??s private sellers in New Jersey on Dec. 1. It was handed off to the Post Office Dec. 3. It was delivered 12 days later, from New Jersey. I could have walked there and back in that time and done some sightseeing along the way.

And the Post Office wonders why it is in financial trouble. Gee, let me think about that.

Wally Bunker is a freelance contributor with the Culpeper Times. You may reach him at wallybunker@outlook.com