Gail Sideman Publicity


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Customer service is part of public relations

Get your feet off the counter, stand up and greet your customers with a smile when they walk through the door!

I realize that customer service is more than a polite “hello, may I help you?” It’s more than asking a customer‘s name or about their day when he or she calls or engages in a live Internet chat. Those niceties may help, but doing the customer service thing well takes sincerity and practice, which even though they’re not in the proverbial PR handbook, are important components of your public relations campaign.

In the past several days, like many of you 365 days each year, I have experienced great customer service and some downright poor treatment from businesses. Last week on Twitter I shared a bit about a lack of cooperation by one company (sometimes Twitter is the only way to get a courteous response from companies but it still feels icky to complain). I’ll only make a brief mention of it here because I don’t want others to get in the bind that I did.

3FVC73VWBHTo be sure, there were some memorable SUPER experiences last week. Yes, plural on the positive! Just read your social media posts some days and we know great customer service situations can be few and far between. I, therefore, tip my virtual cap to business people that impressed me to the degree that I remember, will return to and refer them to others.

Word-of-mouth may be the purest public relations tool because it spurs action faster than any other activity. I know that if business people treat me kindly, there’s a great chance they go out of their ways to show gratitude to other customers. It’s their way of doing things, and we appreciate that. On the other hand, when they’re rude …

First the good guys.

Customer Service Winners

Gyromania Grill, Boca Raton, Fla. – A manager or franchisee of the Greek fresh food establishment went above and beyond with a smile and humor after I screwed up my order on a hurried afternoon. Thank you, sir. The food was great, and you made the visit exceptionally pleasant. You were downright cool. I’ll be back.

Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt – And you guys thought I didn’t do fast food! Well, when I do, I try to keep the sugar and fat low and flavor high. Ms. Menchie’s Customer Service, I might like the flavors of another fro-yo franchise better (documented, so I own it), but I will long share how gracious you are. It’s a great reflection on Menchie’s.

Uber – The app didn’t provide a correct address, and the driver had to deal with a freaked out gate guard before I ever got into the car. The driver took it in stride, and was respectful and friendly en route to the airport. (I also felt bad when he volunteered that he was a Jets fan…) Cheers to another city’s Uber driver with a clean and comfortable car, and exemplary service.

Customer Service loser

Late last month, my website was inexplicably down during a weekend. When I called LunarPages, then my host company to learn why, I discovered that there is no customer service available on weekends or holidays. While is informational and not a retail site, it’s still important that it’s accessible. I decided to transfer the site to a host with 24-7 support.

With four years remaining on a five-year host plan, last week I was told by a customer service rep at LunarPages that I could not receive a refund for the unused, period. I explained the reason I transferred the site and got a stern “no.” After I asked to speak to a manager, said customer service agent returned to the phone and condescendingly said I’d get a “courtesy refund” but a “considerable percentage” would not be returned because I was cancelling early. Her attitude was more offensive than the considerable fee I ate.

If you care about customers, you, as a company owner or manager, are wise to instruct your employees to do most anything within reason to retain the goodwill of people that purchase your product or service. We know that there are unruly customers that want something for nothing and simply like to complain; I don’t condone caving to their demands. If it’s a simple fix, however, make it. You’ll retain a customer, or at least stay on his or her referral list, if you do. Now, for reasons other than a lack of 24-7 support, Lunar won’t make my short list.

**Note – someone from LunarPages reached out on Twitter to see if he could help. I gave him my information and heard nothing after that.

©Gail Sideman,, 2015


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