My wife and I were recently invited to a seminar held at a local business. The sponsors are friends of ours -- great people -- and have an honorable reputation. The seminar, which lasted about an a hour and a half, included dinner. We wanted to support them and, in the end, decided to do business with them after the presentation. Had we not known them however, I doubt we would have engaged them in a professional relationship.
We were told to arrive at 6:30 pm. When we got there, precisely at 6:30, the seminar had already started and most of the other invitees had already finished their meals. Clearly, there was a mix-up with the start time. Yes, there was food left over, but there was no where for my wife or I to sit together. Not wanting to interrupt the presentation, we decided to stand at the back of the room. I found it surprising that none of the other invitees offered to make space, remove their belongings from empty chairs, or make any other effort to accommodate the newly arrived guests. Nor was there an offer made by the hosts to move available chairs to allow us to sit.
Now, don't get me wrong. I am not one of those people who expects to be accommodated everywhere I turn. The concepts of "accommodation" and "entitlement" are often synonymous and have gotten out of control in today's society. What I am saying is that, from a customer service standpoint, I found it interesting that simple and easy gestures were not made to prospective clients to make them feel more welcome. And, because the continual improvement of customer service is something I think about a lot, I found my self not paying attention to the seminar but rather thinking about how I -- and my company -- can do a better job with our customers and prospective clients.
So let me finish with this thought. Whether you're working with us for the first time or the tenth time, we want you to know that you're respected and valued and will extend the most basic of common courtesies and old-fashioned manners. Figuratively speaking, we will look you in the eye and return a firm hand shake. We will hold the door open for you. And we will find you a place to sit.