First, let’s share some facts…. Did you know that it costs businesses seven times more to attract a new customer than it does to train your employees and keep your current customers happy and coming back and more importantly telling other people about your business? Did you know that disgruntled customers are the ones who tell five or 10 other people about what a terrible experience they had and have the loudest voices. The happy, content customers typically do not tell very many people, and in our little community you cannot afford to slip up and get a bad reputation.
Additionally, let us look at the trickledown impact that a poor customer service reputation alone could have on a communities economic welfare if it is not addressed over time.
- Limited or no new population growth in the community
- Limited or no new business start-ups
- No business relocations to Scott County
- Poor or no business retention
- Loss of good to high paying jobs
- Loss of consumer spending locally
- Decline in tourism and the outside dollars brought into the local economy
- Decline and loss of existing business
- Higher unemployment
- Limited or loss of social services to help the community in decline
- Declining tax revenue from the existing, small locally owned, commercial districts
- More vacancies in our downtown and/or business districts
- Resulting in the decline in the value of property
- Increased city and county personal property and employment taxes to pay for infrastructure and services that are typically covered through business tax revenue
- Residential flight (moving) residents giving up on the community and more prosperous communities
While the above list sounds like a “doom’s day” message for any community, every community has the opportunity to change their customer service efforts. Why…? Each community needs to do this for their residents, temporary (tourism) guests, future residents and for the existing businesses and the overall future. It starts with each of us and we ALL must stop accepting poor customer service as the norm.
What does it take to change an employee’s behavior towards giving GREAT customer service?
The phrase “Cash is King!” has been repeated enough in modern vernacular that it could qualify as a cliché. But while there may be some truth to this adage in dealing with areas like finance and real estate, it’s a poor philosophy when designing an employee incentive programs.
Academic research shows that when trying to motivate desired behaviors, non-cash items such as trips, merchandise, event tickets and other exclusive privileges make a much better reward “carrot” than cash.
It may seem counterintuitive because when you ask anyone which they would prefer… cash or a non-cash reward of the same value, the response is always a resounding, “Show me the money!” However, when it comes to tapping into the emotions that make incentive programs work, the results are very different. In practice, businesses have noted that tangible, non-cash rewards do a better job of attracting and holding people’s interest, getting them excited about possibilities, and motivating them to act in a way that meets business objectives or for the purposes of this blog, give good customer service. The theory is that, while cash is nice, and usually needed, the participant feels more “rewarded” when they receive something they have long wanted or may not have acquired otherwise.
Additionally, the tangible, non-cash rewards are viewed with the same reverence as a trophy won in our youth in athletic competitions or an academic accomplishment. Therefore, each and every time the reward is viewed, used or bragged upon it creates a more meaningful, positive, and memorable experience of their accomplishment that continues to reinforces, in our case good customer service, for a longer period of time.
Scott County Visitors Commission’s Mystery Shoppers Program Round One
This past November and December of 2020, members of the Scott County Visitors Commission board of directors and staff actively identify individuals within the County for recognition of GREAT customer service.
Weekly our board and staff (9 people) gave out one “Congratulations” card to an individual who they had either caught or witnessed giving GREAT customer service that week. Over the course of the program, 81 people in Scott County were recognize over the course of the nine-week program for their outstanding customer service.
Each recipient needed to return their card to the Scott County Visitors Commission office were they were given a $25 Visa Gift Card. Additionally, each person was entered into a Grand Prize Drawing for a 70” HD television (estimated $550 value).
This program created a tremendous amount of buzz around the county and some incredible recognition for the businesses for whom these customer service experts worked.
$25 Visa Gift Card Winners
Melanie Campbell (Lexington) Ponderosa Steak House in Scottsburg
Jessica Hawn (Scottsburg) Lon’s Donuts in Scottsburg
Baylee Ashley (Scottsburg) Jay-C Grocery Store in Scottsburg
Pam Noble (Scottsburg) J & C Printing in Scottsburg
Isaiah Walker (Scottsburg) John Jones Auto Group in Scottsburg
Ashleigh Arrowood (Scottsburg) AT&T Store in Scottsburg
Jessica Everitt (Scottsburg) WesBanco in Scottsburg
Beth McIntosh (Austin) WesBanco in Scottsburg
Josie Zimmerman (Scottsburg) Scottsburg Pet Center
Jaunita Lowery (Scottsburg) Sunshine House in Scottsburg
Liz Sandlin Sims (Scottsburg) Lon’s Donuts
Trish Keeton (Scottsburg) Subway – Ace Hardware Plaza in Scottsburg
Kelsey Grey (Austin) Denny’s in Scottsburg
James Dean (Scottsburg) Vail Lumber Company in Scotsburg
Mike Bolger (Henryville) US Postal Service – Scottsburg
Brenda Martin (Lexington) Save-A-Lot in Scottsburg
Mark Hays (Scottsburg) Bag, Feed & Sale in Scottsburg
Micky Kearns (Scottsburg) Cracker Barrell – Scottsburg
Amber Will (Scottsburg) Wal Mart in Scottsburg
Tina Smith (Lexington) Wesbanco in Scottsburg
Grand Prize Winner
Kelsey Gray (Austin) Denny’s in Scottsburg
The Scott County Visitors Commission was very pleased with their initial efforts and has already begun to discuss a second round of incentives for businesses and their employees in Scott County. More details will be announced within the coming months for 2021 GREAT Customer Service Program.