How to be a great customer for local businesses – Chattanooga Times Free Press

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How to be a great customer for local businesses – Chattanooga Times Free Press

Q. How does my family become a great customer and support local businesses during these difficult economic circumstances? A. If y

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Q. How does my family become a great customer and support local businesses during these difficult economic circumstances?

A. If you’re standing in line at a retail store this weekend, consider this thought: are you a good customer? As consumers, we typically have high expectations of a business during a transaction. Whether it be hiring a carpet cleaner, dropping clothes at the cleaners, or going out for a nice meal, we want good service at a fair value. But are we doing our part to help this happen? Most business transactions start with the customer making the first contact, so be sure to bring your A-game and help the transaction to be successful and pleasant for all. Today, small business and our local shops, that we appreciate and want available in the neighborhood, need our support.

BBB offers the following tips on how to be a great customer:

Be ready. When specific or unique items are involved; do your research before contacting the business. Know your specifications of what you are shopping; desired measurements, colors, dates, special requests, times, preferences, pictures, etc. Having a business wait for you to find the information can make for a rough start and a longer process.

Be in the know. Not all businesses give refunds or offer exchanges. Some businesses have limited hours or means of communication. Be sure to review all paperwork and policies so you know what to expect; if you are unsure, ask questions. This is especially important during the pandemic, as businesses adjust their normal policies in efforts to protect their employees and customers.

Be flexible. Remember there is an entire process before a service or product is delivered, which can include glitches and errors. People are not perfect, and machines and technology can fail. If something is delayed or is not as requested, it’s acceptable to make your concern known, but understand that most businesses are doing their best given the circumstances and appreciate your patience.

Be kind. Everyone appreciates a warm tone and a smile. You never know what the other person is going through or just experienced. Try to be the bright point of their day. “Please” and “thank you” really are magic words.

Be attentive. When the business is giving you their full attention, be sure to give it right back. Looking away or talking on the phone while someone is trying to talk can be frustrating for the person trying to help you.

Be understanding. Many people think the business can afford to take the hit when asking for refunds or extras. However, profit margins for businesses are often very slim, especially during the pandemic. Businesses have many expenses that most people don’t realize.

Be patient. Don’t let filing a negative customer review or a complaint be the first time a business hears about a problem. Addressing your dissatisfaction directly is appreciated by most businesses and allows them the opportunity to correct it for you.

Be thankful. We are all busy, but taking just a moment to say “good job” is time well spent. Go the extra step by sharing your experience to a manager or owner.

Jim Winsett is president of the Better Business Bureau in Chattanooga

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