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Small Business Center

9 Deadly Customer Service Sins

June 6, 2022

By Angel Cicerone, Tenant Mentorship


Personalized service and attention are the hallmarks of small business, and customer satisfaction is the key to retention. Is your staff doing its part to promote loyalty? Keep a careful eye out for these transgressions in your store or restaurant.

1. Making a customer wait to pay

Whether it’s a line at the cashwrap or waiting for the check in a restaurant, making a customer wait to pay leaves a very bad last impression and can spoil an otherwise pleasant experience.

2. Associates chatting on cell phones or texting

It’s not just enough to have a no cell phone rule. You need to enforce it! 

3. Not having a customer’s best interest at heart

People are intuitive and know if your efforts are insincere. Service and hospitality come from the heart. Hire only those who care about an excellent outcome for every customer.

4. No suggesting alternatives/upselling

Visitors truly want to find the perfect items or services. Not making recommendations on how you can potentially fill their desires is a disservice to them.

5. Ignoring a customer

Pretty much says it all.

6. Not resolving complaints quickly and to the customer’s satisfaction

Would you rather be right or keep a customer? The choice is yours.

7. Sales associates who don’t have product knowledge

One of the big reasons people patronize independently owned businesses is for depth of product knowledge not found in impersonal, larger stores.

8. Not validating a customer’s purchase

A customer should be congratulated for every purchase in your establishment. “You’re going to love this.” “I know you’ll be happy with this.” In other words: You’ve made the right decision shopping with us!

9. Pre-judging the customer’s desire or ability to buy

We don’t judge in sales. We assume everyone is a potential customer and work toward that inevitability. Even those visitors who seem difficult or distracted may be back another day — if treated well.

The best way to ensure great customer service is to make it the cornerstone of your store’s experience and consistently train staff in the skills and attitude necessary to provide an exceptional experience.

Small Business Center

ICSC champions small and emerging businesses in getting from business plan to brick-and-mortar.

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