Friday, August 7, 2020

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Customer service is a reflection of us

Alaina Beautiful Bald Eagle

Just how important is quality customer care? It may the difference between me spending my money or me deciding never to hand over a dime to a business. Since moving here, I have experienced some really horrible customer service and some really great customer care.

I have paid two artists for custom-made beadwork and a pair of moccasins, and to this day, have yet to receive my orders, a return call, or a refund. I lost out on hundreds of dollars because I trusted them. Needless to say, I am never placing an order with them again and discourage others from doing so as well.

I have also experienced great customer service on Cheyenne River. I ordered a cake from the local grocery store and the baker was a complete joy- she took time to explain different cakes and ways of decorating them, much to the delight of my daughter, who is an aspiring baker. She even showed my young one the different piping tips she used to make sugary roses that adorned the cakes!

I am now a faithful customer of the local bakery.

Customer service does not just pertain to businesses where money is involved. It can be found at public offices, tribal departments, schools, law enforcement, and so much more. A few months ago, my family visited the State Capitol Building and we took our daughter to the South Dakota Secretary of State office where employees happily explained the building’s history and gave her a junior lobbyist ID badge. It was a pleasant experience and prompted an inquisitive young mind to the legislative process.

Last year, I experienced horrific customer service. After I placed an order online from the Sears website, I received an email stating my packages were delivered to an address in Idaho! I quickly called Sears customer service and was told that although I placed the order through their website, a third-party company was responsible for the order and shipment.

It turns out the company was based out of China and I had no way contact them directly. Instead, I was told to submit a customer complaint through the Sears website and that someone from the third-party company would contact me. After a few weeks of endlessly submitting complaints, I finally received my orders. I now refuse to purchase anything through the Sears website.

So, what does this all mean? Customer service matters and greatly impacts businesses. Last year, Forbes published a report stating that poor customer service was costing businesses more than $75 billions a year. They cited the NewVoiceMedia report that stated that customers cease to do business for four main reasons:

1) They do not feel appreciated.

2) They are not able to speak to a person who can provide them answers they are looking for.

3) They experience rude and unhelpful employees.

4) They are being passed around to multiple people.

These four things have resulted in customers severing ties with a business, even though they may have been loyal for many years, which brings me to my point. Our communities are small and tight-knit, and people talk. People remember if they were treated well or if they were treated poorly, and almost always, they always remember the bad.

I once heard spiritual leader Ivan Looking Horse give a speech during a tribal employee appreciation lunch. He told tribal employees to treat everyone with dignity and respect, and to always keep in mind that some of the people who come to their office may not have the means to travel, that they may have hitchhiked from outlying communities, or that they may have spent their last $5.00 on gas just to see them, and therefore, should be welcomed and treated kindly.

This is the epitome of providing customer service and doing so with a good heart. May we all strive to treat one another as we would our own mother, father, and grandparent.