When I was in college I worked a part-time sales job at a locally owned high-end optical shop. The business owner/sales manager always had a customer service lesson for us and I often utilize lessons learned from him back then in my business today.

Lesson: when someone calls and asks a question like "where are you located," don't just give them the answer to their question. Instead, give them the answer and ask what else you can do for them, ask how they learned about us, give them your name and invite them to come into the store to see you.

Seems simple right? Well, recently I contacted the city to let them know that I had two street lights out on my street and needed them repaired. The person on the other end seemed determined to get off the phone as soon as possible and to do it without being of any help, but they recorded my address and general location of the street light and ended the call. Then, after a week or so with no word and no repair, I called back. As it turned out, they also needed the pole number too. Ok, I went outside peeked through the fence and found the the number. After returning to the phone I explained that the number was only visible on one of the poles and was told they would get them fixed. Two nights later the light was working. Well, one of them was. So, I called back again and was told that they came out, but needed the other pole number before they could repair the second one. After a little complaining from me, I realized that I was never going to get the second light fixed unless I found that other number so I climbed through two different yards, brushed up against not so nice looking plants and vines, climbed the fence and found the other pole number. Two days later the second light was fixed. Amazing, only a half-dozen phone calls and three weeks to fix two broken street lights.

Although this story is not about my business, it is a reminder to me about why we do things the way we do. We may ask a lot of questions, but all we are trying to do is get to the heart of what is needed, collect all the information to complete the task and get it done right the first time.


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