Best in Business

Wow, what a night! But what a year in business, and with one month still left on the calendar, here’s to it being successful!

Saturday, 26 November, saw 240 people attend the region’s premier event – The Best in Business Awards – hosted by Capricorn Enterprise and The Capricorn Chamber of Commerce at Korte’s Resort in Parkhurst.

The awards celebrate and acknowledge excellence and exceptional achievements by showcasing our dynamic and robust local businesses and people.

When it comes to small business, I’m taking a stab and guessing it’s pretty well-known now that I don’t do business like most others. It’s not naïve, but I am genuinely not interested in competing with anyone. I’m interested in competing with myself. In business, this translates to – this month vs last month or this month this year vs this month last year, for example. While awareness is still in play, competition is not.

I’m told this surprises some people to learn that I don’t have a competitive bone in my body, and I find it amusing when I observe those who do. (This might explain why my childhood ribbons are all participation achievements).

Not discounting the world of those who are competitive and their priorities, it’s simply not something I understand which is why it offers such entertainment.

What the Best in Business Awards offer is an opportunity to reflect, celebrate and recognise the success and achievement of gruelling hard work and determination by many businesses and their employees, especially as the year comes to a close.

There are fundamental principles that enable successful business practices, and the one I want to focus on today is customer service. We often hear about or experience poor customer service due to various factors, from resourcing issues to supply limitations and even training gaps in this changing world.

We are in a new world post-pandemic, and the shift is still settling. Many organisations have to jump on the bandwagon of establishing ‘No Excuse For Abuse’ policies and campaigns to prioritise their

employees’ safety and their staff’s well-being.

I understand that life can be frustrating and things don’t go to plan from time to time, but it’s rarely caused by the person on the other end of the phone or in front of you at the counter, so be kind – always.

Like all two-way relationships, businesses also have their role to play when it comes to being considerate to their customers. The pandemic is not an excuse for poor customer service and never has been. It truly needs to stop being blamed. With clear communication, perspective and realistic expectations, we can all appreciate the apparent delays that seem to be the norm.

If I reflect on two different customer service experiences in recent times, perspective and realistic expectations can aid a seamless transaction, assisted with clear communication.

A warranty claim is underway for my lounge, and the business responsible for the repairs is so busy that it’s weeks between visits. And you know what? I’m stoked for them! I am thrilled they are so busy that it takes weeks to get work done. This is when they work hard, stash some cash in reserve and prepare for the quieter times when they inevitably come. That’s perspective.

In a completely different environment and in an industry under the pump, too, I needed to have some printing done recently and unexpectedly on the back of creating an 18-page book showcasing the incredible work of a local organisation. After explaining my situation, and being the type of customer who never demands a business drop everything to serve me, in less than 24hrs this local business came to my rescue and created 25 copies which were invaluable where they were presented.

In the second example of printing, my backup plan was to print at home on A4 paper using every bit of colour ink I had in stock. However, I had realistic expectations because I asked the question of City Printing Works, explained how important it was, and was prepared for an answer of ‘no, this can’t be done’. What I got, though, was incredible and a yes.

Building relationships, trust and loyalty between businesses and consumers is critical to doing good business. People do business with people, after all.

“Customer trust comes into town on a tricycle, and it leaves in a formula one Ferrari” – Michael Dart, Executive General Manager, Customer Division, Energy Queensland.

Technology cannot replace the human interaction required to do good business and provide good customer service, nor should it. When we were avalanching towards autonomy and self-service, it went too far to a degree. It’s time to rebalance and recognise what still requires good old-fashioned customer service and trust and what technology can enhance the transaction, not reduce the service provided.

While I love self-service in a supermarket for a few items, I urge the big supermarkets to consider the customer service they’re providing by forcing a week’s worth of shopping through a self- checkout for example. I can imagine if a customer satisfaction score were a key performance indicator for a supermarket, they’d be rudely shocked at how bad it lands because the trust is gone.

It will take a lot of tricycle riding to get it back when the rebalance is done.