Twice in the last week I have been served by people wearing earphones. Maddening! In both cases they were from small businesses rather than High Street names. One was the ice cream van man. That was particularly disappointing as the first ice cream of the season from a roaming van is still a mildly exciting traditional event marking the promise of summer! (He carried on talking to the person at the end of the earphones while constructing a particularly nasty sugar concoction.)

The second was a trainee in a local, independent hardware shop. What was particularly disappointing about that incident was that, just before he served me, I could hear that he was being trained on use of the till by one of the owners. Arrgghhh!!

I thought I would be stating the obvious to say that these are both examples of poor customer service. However, I was a bit concerned that I might be a bit pre-millenial. To be certain, I tested my theory out on my 16 year old daughter – and, thankfully, she was equally shocked.

What saddens me most about both examples is that I, and many, many others, want independent retailers to thrive. They are up against tough competition on every front – economies of scale, attracting good talent, marketing budgets, price tactics, being priced out of prime locations and the danger of social media rants. Any one of those challenges could be enough to put them out of business.  Any one of those same challenges could be enough to wipe out their enthusiasm to even try. So, if people are going to try to run an independent business, don’t forget the basics…

Be 100% focused on your customer when you’re dealing with them – you‘ll be nurturing an advocate, which is gold dust in marketing terms.

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