- Category: Reporter's Notebook
- Published on Wednesday, 19 September 2012 17:38
- Written by Nicholas Shannon Kulmac
Well, I’m back in the saddle after a refreshing 10-day vacation in Ireland! Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to show off the sweet new Irish wool sweater I purchased over there – I have our 90 degree weather to thank for that… though I’m certainly in no rush to lose this beautiful blue sky.
Having rented a car (or “hired” as the Irish like to say), I traversed most of the country during my stay. Along the way, I couldn’t help but compare business in the Emerald Isle to business in Southwest Washington.
What stuck out most to me from a business perspective – aside from an observed absence of new construction in the country – was the absolute top-notch customer service I received wherever I went. I should also note that this high level of service was not just enjoyed by tourists; locals received it as well.
Speaking of tourists, while I haven’t done an extraordinary amount of traveling in my life, I’ve been around enough to know that tourists are, at times, treated by locals as either an annoyance or as a walking transaction. In Ireland this was never the case. From day one, I encountered business owners who were far more concerned with my customer experience than with getting paid.
At times, this commitment to service was illustrated by offering an “insider” tip, by taking the time to share an interesting story or by simply showing genuine interest in the customer’s day. Other times, it was as easy as making eye contact and flashing a genuine smile.
Now take that level of service and spread it across an entire region, from business to business. Whether you’re talking about Ireland or the Pacific Northwest, what you leave the customer with is a lasting impression that they will happily tell their friends and family about.
So perhaps it’s time we put the transaction-based business thinking on hold. Instead, we should think about the kind of experience our customers and clients are receiving. The right kind of experience will naturally lead to good business.