by Steve Adubato, PhD

Q-What do you say to those who argue that the customer is NOT always right? Doesn't the attitude that 'the customer is always right' reflect a culture where as long as a sale is made the customer can act like a spoiled child?

by Steve Adubato, PhD

Jerry Pagano is a Newark educator who spent many years moonlighting as a head waiter in an Ironbound restaurant. Jerry is big on interpersonal communication and customer service. He believes you can't provide quality customer service without caring enough to listen to your customer. Jerry is also a golfer who plays on public courses. Recently he had an experience on a public course that provides a graphic example of how not to treat customers.

by Steve Adubato, PhD

Lots of reaction to last month's column in which we explored a former Californian who moved to New Jersey who was quite critical of the lack of quality customer service she has experienced to date. Others wrote to share their customer service experiences.

Helen-Chantal Pike had a laundry list of customer service beefs. Here goes; "Ever stand in a supermarket or convenience store check-out line and have the cashier talk through you to the adjoining cashier? If you're lucky, he/she may pause just long enough to say 'sign here.' When was the last time you had your windshields cleaned or your oil checked without having to ask to have it done? Common courtesy seems to have gone the way of the dodo bird."

Wow, Helen. That's some list of complaints. I'd love to be able to argue with you, but I can't. It seems as if most of us are better able to remember our negative customer service experiences. The positive experiences are often taken for granted or seen as nothing special. Fact is, those quality customer service experiences are special and those who provide them should be recognized and thanked.

Speaking of food stores, Maureen Swift of Washington, NJ, praises one major supermarket chain that makes quality service a top priority. "I'm from upstate New York, and I can't begin to describe my joy when Wegman's supermarket opened their store in Bridgewater. Now I no longer have to shop in my local grocery stores where the help is surly, unenthusiastic and uninterested in the customer. At Wegman's, the help is friendly and enthusiastic, smiles and offers service quickly and professionally. It is Wegman's policies that create the behavior clerks display to customers, and it is obvious which stores care enough about customers to insist that the help treat them with respect."

Great letter, Maureen. While I've never been to Wegman's, I've heard great things about them. My local Shop Rite really goes out of its way to be helpful and I know that is not by accident. They work hard at customer service and since Shop Rite is going head to head with Wegman's in certain areas, you've got to believe that the competition can only be good for the customer.

Speaking of customer service, one customer of this column isn't particularly pleased with me. Chuck Rose was less than thrilled with my recent column trashing Martha Stewart's handling of her most recent insider trading controversy. In that column, I talked about some of the keys to successful crisis communication, which clearly Martha hadn't learned.

Says Chuck, "Hey Steve, from whom did you acquire your crisis communications abilities? I hope the communications knowledge (advice?) you distributed in your Star Ledger column was 'borrowed' and not yours when you said, 'Martha Stewart's message is that all this insider-trading stuff is not worth talking about.' You're joking, of course!? If not, I would suggest that you talk with a few 'professionals' before you use your pulpit to do additional harm to the profession by convincing anyone that 'communications' professionals really don't have regard for or a clue about the principles and concepts of honesty, ethics and public perception."

Relax, Chuck. My point was that Martha Stewart really needed some crisis communication training because she was so ill equipped to handle this situation. As you know, since then she has hired a top PR firm to help her. Unfortunately, she's gone underground in the last couple of weeks and isn't saying a word. I say she's got to be more direct and candid and admit any mistakes if she's made them. What do you think, Chuck?

As always, thanks for the feedback.

by Steve Adubato, PhD

Several years ago, Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, Florida was ranked near the bottom in national surveys of patient satisfaction. The hospital had a reputation not only of employing rude physicians, but of promoting an environment that was downright unfriendly to customers.

by Steve Adubato, PhD

Virtually every professional is involved in promoting, selling or advertising something. Put together, these activities come under the umbrella of marketing.