They are gearing up for a 14-city Midwest bus tour this month featuring the four life-size Mount Rushmore mascots of presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. The presidential mascots previously have made appearances at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Major League Baseball games, which have led to appearances on ESPN.
Tourism leaders are traveling the state, including Aberdeen this week, to talk about the importance of tourism to South Dakota. Along with them is customer service expert V.J. Smith, who is teaching business leaders about providing excellent customer service.
People can make a tremendous impression — good or bad — in just two minutes, Smith said. “We're all judged every day by how much we care,” he said.
Aberdeen has a long list of wins in the area of customer service to visitors. From the woman several years ago who lost her purse along the highway on the way to the State B basketball tourney here — someone else picked it up and it was returned to her — to the numerous events businesses help sponsor every year, such as the fireworks display, arts in the park, car show and Brown County Fair.
Those events put many smiles on the faces of lots of people. But every business has work to do in the area of customer service.
If you think you have perfect customer service, think again. The fight to provide good customer service is a daily one, with the battle lines drawn where the customer meets the people a business has hired to staff its front lines.
An untrained, rude employee, or an employee having a bad day can spell disaster for your business. Every day, customers walk out of stores in South Dakota muttering to themselves, “Never again.”
Sometimes, a customer who clears his head will return. But with the Internet providing so many options, who as a business owner wants to take that chance?
And when you are talking about visitors to our community, nothing can bring them back more quickly than good customer service. And nothing can drive them away more quickly than bad service.
If you own a business and have one untrained, bad or inconsistent face of your company in front of customers for 40 hours a week, how much business is that costing you?
How many people are walking out your door never to return?
How many people are telling your friends about their horrible experience at your store?
How much money is that one bad apple in your store full of good behind-the-counter apples costing you every week, month and year? Plus, we have a lot of great business owners in this region, and if they make more money, their employees make more.
Tourism is the second-leading industry in the state behind agriculture. The total economic value of the travel industry to South Dakota is $1.95 billion.
How big or small is your piece of that pie? With good customer service, it is there for the taking.