Seriously? Penny Davenport says....plus 10 steps to career success.

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One thing which is guaranteed to get me on my soap box is poor customer service. When a company displays a complete lack of care for its customers, its extremely disappointing but what is more heart-breaking is that company is made up of a team of individuals. When someone disrespects you and your custom, you are dealing with a person, not a faceless corporation. That person has it within them to be polite, show courtesy and to try to support you as a fellow human being.

John Lewis still leads the way for the high street in how to look after customers. They may not trail-blaze with innovative products and a cutting edge brand but you feel welcome when you walk in and know that you will receive the best advice. Liberty is another Grande Dame where the staff are warm, knowledgeable and welcoming. I contrast that with a shocking visit to a pub in the Midlands last weekend where the staff, having seated us, were not able to serve food for 2 hours! The attitude of the manageress was complete disinterest. Seriously?

What can we do to reward good service and avoid spending our money with those that don't value us? In this era of walk-in salons and pop-up shops and restaurants, it seems that many proprietors don't need to worry about longevity. What they do care about, though, are customer reviews so if you've had a bad experience, take a few minutes to write about it, objectively and with dignity. At the end of the day, the biggest statement you can make is to vote with your feet and take your custom elsewhere.

This brings me on to my first step to career success. Put each of my steps into action during this year and you will be well on your way to the career you want. Step 1 is to identify what you love to do. Clearly, many in the front line of customer service do not love what they do. Take half an hour this week to write down a list of the things you really enjoy about your job. Just because you are good at something, it doesn't mean that you enjoy it. Add to the list anything you like doing outside of work, no matter how frivolous or sociable. Your extra-curricular activities help to define you as a whole and what you love to do. If money were not an issue, how would you spend your perfect day? Where would you be and who would you see? Would it be a fast-paced day or more relaxing?

Put your list away for a few days and allow your thoughts to percolate. Review your list again and see if anything jumps out at you. Is there something you really love to do that you could contemplate doing as a career? Are there any things you loathe that you should try to eliminate? Consider your findings until we discuss step 2 next month.

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