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Great customer service all about commitment

Even in our ever-changing world of gray areas and ambiguity, some things in life contrast so starkly there is no mistaking one for the other.

Day and night. Mean spirited or generous. Good vs. evil. Rural living against big-city life. Republican or Democrat. (OK, maybe the lines are much more blurred on that last one than they used to be, but you get the picture.)

One area that truly stands out is the difference between good and bad customer service.

These two types of human interactions are just as identifiable as night and day.

Take a minute or two while you are out dealing with the public and you will quickly be able to spot both sides of this coin.

Great customer service: The smiling receptionist who offers all the information you require to answer your questions while visiting the business.

Poor customer service: The employee who is too busy talking to a friend about where they are going to dinner or texting on their phone to assist you, the customer, who only gets the most basic acknowledgment.

Great customer service: The sales clerk who asks if you need any help, then gives you the space needed to make a decision.

Poor customer service: The employee who hovers over you like a shadow, making it difficult to navigate through the merchandise without knocking he or she down.

Good customer service: The restaurant waitress who remembers to stop by every few minutes and understands when someone says they are ready for the bill it means sometime in the near future.

Poor customer service: The waiter or waitress who brings you the bill and disappears to cigarette-smoking land or somewhere else for 20 minutes, failing to realize that you still actually need to pay for the meal.

Traveling always offers the opportunity to see these contrasts up close and personal, perhaps nowhere as strikingly as the airport.

Airline employees must be separated upon their hire. Some go to the great service school while others go to the hateful, can’t communicate pool.

Admittedly, travelers are often not in the best of moods. Long security lines, frequent delays and cramped airplanes and terminals often make passengers a little more difficult to deal with.

Still, that doesn’t give employees the license to be rude, dismissive and downright unhelpful.

The same goes for restaurants and other businesses many of us visit while on vacation. It can be eye-opening to see the stark difference between individual who wants to provide great customer service and those who simply don’t care.

We pride ourselves on customer service here at The Interior Journal. We all work hard to be friendly, responsive and helpful.

Do we always hit the mark? Probably not, but we will always strive for perfection.

If you call me, I will do my absolute best to call you back within a day. E-mail me and I will try to respond ASAP.

I expect the same of each and every person on our team, even when it is clear that the customer is unhappy about something.

Great customer service is something every business should aspire to — day and night.

We cannot let the sun go down on the opportunity to serve the public well.

Michael Caldwell is interim publisher of The Interior Journal. He can be reached at (859) 469-6452 or by email at mike.caldwell@theinteriorjournal.com.