5 On Your Side

Customer service gives businesses 'huge payoff'

Posted January 7, 2010 5:00 p.m. EST
Updated January 7, 2010 6:09 p.m. EST

— In a bad economy, excellent customer service is more important than ever for businesses that want to keep their clients. Plus, happy customers can spread the word to potential new patrons.

That’s the idea behind a customer service class being offered through Wake Technical Community College.

Jane Broden spent more than a decade in the hotel industry. Now she teaches a customer service class offered through Wake Tech. In this economy, customer service is an easy and inexpensive way for a business to get ahead, she tells her students.

“It's a small thing that gives a huge payoff,” Broden said. “It's a good thing to focus on, because it's not going to cost you thousands upon thousands of dollars. Then, when the economy perks back up, it's going to separate you from everyone else.”

Sybil Anderson, who works as a hotel receptionist, said she “just keeps smiling, because a lot of times we are really tested at the front desk.”

For Elke Weil, “it’s all about the customer.”

“It's about exceeding expectations and wanting people to come back because you are ... giving them the service that they wanted,” Weil said.

Broden says no matter what your business, it boils down to paying attention to customers.

“Oftentimes, terrible customer service is because someone's busy or they have something on their mind. Just stop it. Focus on that one guest. Make each guest be like it's the president of the company or someone you're really trying to impress. Try doing that for a day and see how you're naturally better,” Broden said.

The consequences of poor customer service can be serious, especially since owners might not ever know a about it. Surveys show that 96 percent of people who have a bad experience don’t complain, according to Broden.

“Those people who aren’t complaining, they’re not coming back,” she said. “They’ll just tell other people, and they’ll go somewhere else.”

The next Customer Care for the Hospitality Industry class is from 9 a.m. to noon, Jan. 22, at the Paragon Bank in Raleigh. It costs $35.

To register, visit http://www.visitraleigh.com/chp/ or call Julie Brakenbury at 919-645-2661.