As many times as I have sung the song in church, I never paid much attention to the implications of the words of the old Protestant song entitled “Uncloudy Day.” We don’t use that phrase anymore—days are either clear, partly cloudy, or cloudy. But, the backstory is of the title is contained in the lyric, “where no storm clouds rise.” An uncloudy day is one free of the stress that storms are coming.
Customers long for service like an uncloudy day. And, they are always on the lookout for signals that there are storm clouds rising. It might be the indifferent look from a clerk, inadequate staff, extra rules, or even no paper towels in the dispenser in the bathroom.
Customers weather watch starts when they pull in your parking lot, walk in your front door, log on your website or call you on the phone. They listen for sounds of impending thunder, like a disgruntled employee sparring for confrontation or a stern frontline person giving you a new variation on “hell, no.”
Your welcome mat telegraphs your desire for all customers to have an uncloudy day, filled with sunshine. And, the greatest test of that welcome mat is when customers have a concern, disappointment or issue. How you handle it will determine if the clouds blow over or turn into a storm.
Stew Leonard Sr. of Stew Leonard’s Dairy Stores tells the story of a customer complaining about a quart of eggnog she purchased at his store. Turns out it was made from an old family restaurant–a pride of the famed family business. She demanded her money back claiming it was spoiled. Stew Sr. took issue with her claim and reluctantly refunded her money. “I am never coming back into your store again,” she said as she stormed out of his store. “Good riddance,” he thought.
Then he began to think about how he had dealt with her stormy day. The average customer spends a $100 a week on groceries at his store for 50 weeks a year. The average resident lives in the area for about 10 years. While he reluctantly refunded her ninety-nine cents, he lost a customer who could have spent $50,000 at his store. He went to a nearby stone mason and bought an engraved giant rock to put in front of the store. It read: Rule #1: The customer is always right. Rule #2: If the customer is ever wrong, reread rule #1.
Are your customers always right? Of course not. We are all customers and know we are sometimes dead wrong. But, the goal is to make certain every customer leaves feeling right. That means ensuring every day for your customers is an uncloudy day.