Taking care of the customer
In one evening, in ten minutes, I was shown two different examples of businesses taking care of their customers.
First I was in the grocery store, in the checkout line to be specific. I was behind a gentleman who was almost done. Just a couple more items to be scanned and then he would pay and leave. As the cashier tried to scan one of his items - a bottle of saline solution - the product woudn't scan. A sticker had been placed, either by the manufacturer or the store, over the UPC barcode. It was not going to be easy to get off. The cashier quickly flagged down his supervisor and held up the item and asked for help. The supervisor said "that's either $1.79 or $2.49. Let's charge him $1.79 and call it close enough." It was quick and simple. Neither the customer nor I (in line) was bothered by it at all. Yes, maybe the store lost an extra 70 cents they could have made if they told the customer to wait, irked me, got on the microphone, asked for a price check, and basically cost everyone 3 minutes of their lives. Instead, they looked friendly, responsive and flexible.
The second example came about ten minutes later when I walked into my neighborhood Chinese food restaurant. I'm in there about once a week so certain staff members had gotten to know me and they are always nice and polite. But when I walked in this time, I realized they had entered a new era. Instead of taking phone orders on paper receipt tablets as had been the case before, they were typing everything into a computer. They were talking to a customer on the phone and capturing his order, specific requests, his phone number, delivery address, etc. Going forward, they would have a better picture of their clientele, be better able to target their advertising, be able to track order history, etc.
Technology can help a business run more smoothly and efficiently, but ultimately it's how this technology is applied that will determine success. In both cases, the grocery store and the Chinese restaurant seemed to understand that the technology they employ is merely a tool. Taking care of the customer will always be more important.