The Power of A Penny

The act was so small in physical terms, but huge in impact. It was a quick reminder to me of how easy it is to improve a customer's perception of a business and how they actually care about having your business.

I was paying for gas at a convenience store and gave them my credit card. The total was $25.01, but as the cashier reached to slide my card, she also grabbed a penny from the cup next to the register and dropped it into the drawer. My new total...$25.00. Like I said, the act was terribly small, but seeing a cashier go out of their way, even just a little, significantly improved my attitude toward the business.

In today's hyper rushed environment, it seems harder than ever to provide excellent customer service. The reality is that it may actually be easier than we imagine. Even the slightest extra effort to acknowledge the value of a customer can pay big returns. Some simple steps almost any business can take in training their people to provide better customer service include:

Make meaningful eye contact. You don't want to stare and make someone uncomfortable, but looking at someone when you are talking to them is a lost skill. I was purchasing something recently and the transaction took about 4 minutes. The amount of time the person behind the counter actually looked at me?.... 2 seconds.

Say "thank you" instead of "no problem." I never realized that purchasing from a company or inquiring about a product or service could potentially be a "problem." Silly me.

Make it personal. At least introducing yourself and giving your name before asking to help a customer makes the transaction personal. And if you ask for my name as a customer, make sure you take the time to get it right! Writing "Thank you" on an invoice or receipt, or even a quick note (i.e. "Have a great night") shows me I am more than just a number or a point of revenue.

These types of ideas won't revolutionize your company, but in today's competitive environment, any advantage, even if small like a penny, can make a big difference.