Listen to the Silence  
b y L y l e R . H i l l  
s much as it hurts to admit, I am,  
customers because of poor service are the first  
to tell you that they pride themselves on their  
.. many businesses that regularly lose  
like most of you,a true creature of  
habit,a rut dweller,“Mr.Vanilla.”  
So it was that day after day, week  
after week, my morning routine hardly  
ever varied.  
I would pull up to the speaker box at a reputations for customer satisfaction. After all,  
local fast food drive-thru restaurant,ex-  
they hardly ever receive a complaint.  
pecting to hear a pleasant “good morn-  
ing.” Instead, a semi-agitated and often  
surly voice would boom a cursory,“May And being the creature of habit that I customers because of poor service  
I take your order?”from the box.  
am, it’s now been nearly three years of are the first to tell you that they pride  
Yes, a medium coffee with one constant patronage to the newer, better themselves on their reputations for  
cream,” I dutifully would answer each supplier of the goods and services I de- customer satisfaction. After all, they  
morning,knowing full well that the fun sired all the while. Herein is perhaps a hardly ever receive a complaint.  
lesson for us all. So,if this is a real-life situation,and I  
Companies become rut dwellers, too. certainly believe it is, how do you avoid  
was about to begin.  
You see, what I had ordered had lit-  
tle relationship to what I would receive. They feel they can live on their reputa- it? How can you hear what isn’t being  
Some mornings I received a large coffee tion or their low prices or convenience said. Very simple ... ask. Become pro-  
with five or six creamers. Sometimes factors.Few,if any,of the customers they active instead of reactive. Customer re-  
it was a small coffee with one sugar. lose will ever call or write or stop by in sponse cards or, even better, customer  
Often, my simple order took forever person to say why they’re leaving to go post-service calls or emails are a good  
to fill because of complications with to a competitor. Most often, they will be place to start. You might also want to  
the car ahead of me. For any number nice, decent people who no longer feel ask whether or not yours is a repeat  
of reasons, my simple order was mis- that they’re being treated properly. They customer. Who did his last job? What  
filled at least 50 percent of the time! just won’t feel that their business means brought him to you in the first place?  
And the service was neither friendly anything one way or the other.  
nor efficient.Also,the length of my wait Most won’t complain because they mend you to a friend or relative?  
seemed to be inversely proportionate really don’t want to make a scene. Whatever it takes, talk to your cus-  
to the size of my order. Often, the sim- They, like most of us, already have tomers. Find out what they really think  
ple order took eight to ten minutes. enough conflicts in their lives. They’re of you. And always remember, if you  
Would he come back? Will he recom-  
Rut dwellers do not make changes the nice, compliant, soft-spoken cus- don’t ask, you’ll probably never hear or  
easily, so I kept going back.After all, the tomer. They’ll put up with lousy ser- know, and even worse, you may never  
place was on my way; it had the cheap- vice once, maybe even twice, but they see them again. n  
est coffee in town, and I didn’t have to won’t complain because they  
inconvenience myself by getting out of feel it wouldn’t do them any  
the car. But even rut dwellers eventually good anyway. They also know  
recognize false economies.After several they won’t receive poor service  
months of the ridiculously inefficient from you again because they  
L y l e R . H i l l is the managing  
director of Keytech North America,  
a company providing research and  
technical services for the glass and  
metal industry. Hill has more than  
service, I finally stopped going back.  
know they’re not coming back  
Ultimately, I found a friendlier, more again—no matter how conve-  
efficient supplier for my morning cof- nient or inexpensive you are!  
40 years experience in the glass  
fee. The new place was a little more  
What’s perhaps most surpris-  
and metal industry and can be reached at You can read his blog every  
other Monday at  
expensive, and I had to get out of my ing of all is the fact that many  
car to go inside to get the order filled. businesses that regularly lose  
USGlass, Metal & Glazing | August 2017  

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