What Can I Do For You, My Friend?

socs-badge Love is in the blog

As a child, I often visited my dad at the home improvement store he owned and operated. I liked being there, and I learned a lot from it too; in particular it taught me a lot about dealing with customers.

When customers would come in and approach my dad for help with anything from ordering custom-made blinds or scheduling installation for screens, doors and the like, my dad always greeted them with a comfortable smile, saying something along the lines of, “What can I do for you, my friend?”

The first time that happened, I remember asking him and my mother after if we knew that customer. I still remember being surprised when I was told no, that we didn’t.

“But how come he called him a friend?” I remember asking. It just didn’t make sense to me. Especially since the vibe between my dad and the customer seemed genuinely friendly, like you would be with someone you actually were friends with.

I can’t remember exactly what they said to explain this all to me, but whatever they said must have made sense, because from that time I understood—basically, my dad genuinely liked running his own business and dealing with customers, so he truly was happy to see these people and get to know them and build a working relationship with them, hopefully long-term.

The linear, young side of me found this approach amazing. Now, over the years, I’ve seen business owners and employees do something similar, but this first exposure to a dynamic like this will always stand out in my mind.

Plus I’ve also too often seen some who do the exact opposite and treat customers as people they’re doing a favor for, treating them rudely, or being abrupt and unyielding. Even if they were doing someone a favor, there’s no reason to act like that. (This is a pet peeve of mine, actually!) Besides, these customers are paying for whatever service or product they’re there for!

In those moments, I always think about how my dad treated his customers like friends, and try to do the same in my own line of work. While I have yet to actually call the people who come to me my “friend” — somehow it doesn’t come off as naturally as it did with my dad — I do my best to interact with them with a similarly open, friendly approach.

This isn’t to say that there will never be issues with customers or clients, but if you approach them in this way, I’ve personally found that things can be more easily worked out. Plus it makes whatever work you do more pleasant! I encourage you to try it too — and if you have it in you to actually use the word “friend” in this way, I’d love to hear about it!

Note: this post was created as part of Stream of Conciousness Saturday organized this week by LindaGHill, as well as the Bee as part of Love is in Da Blog; the prompt was “friend” and/or “acquaint.” I thought this was a great prompt; although I didn’t know what to write initially, once this memory popped into my head, the choice was made for me. 🙂 

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34 comments

  1. I like this way of using the word “friend”. Seems to me like there are many degrees of friendship, from brief and casual, to long and deep. I would have enjoyed doing business with your father.

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  2. I always admire people like your dad who make everyone feel special. Before I had to leave my job due to injury I used to work on a customer service desk in a large supermarket. We all made it our life’s job to sort things an send the customer out feeling good and happy! ( times out of ten we succeeded. Your parents taught you the best lesson in life. Never be afraid to reach out , my friend! xx

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  3. How competitive today’s market is, most companies offer similar products and prices. What will always be the defining factor, in my opinion, is superior customer service. It doesn’t mean you have to give away the store, it’s always the small meaningful gestures that are remembered the most.

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    1. Yes, and it also should be genuine whenever possible. Sometimes I’ll go into a store and someone will greet me, but in a formulaic way that doesn’t match what they’re saying — then I can tell they’re being forced to do that to each person who comes in. While I get why some businesses mandate that, they should stress the importance of meaning it, or make sure to hire people who have those qualities. Because you’re right, with all the competition out there, a personal connection can make all the difference. Great point!

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  4. I work in a supermarket and I usually am very friendly with customers but I have to admit some of them just rub me up the wrong way and no matter how hard I try I just can’t be as open and helpful with them like with most of the others. But I agree being open and friendly does go an awful long way in retail environment. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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    1. I know what you mean. There are some people who are just hard to do this with. I know when I see someone who approaches me unpleasantly, even if it’s just with a sour look on their face, it can be hard to brightly greet them. 🙂 But I do think sometimes it disarms them when I do. But I can’t always do it, either…working on that. So I do relate to your experience; thanks for mentioning it!

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  5. I was born and raised in the South. Your Dad reminds me of the way it is in North Carolina where I grew up. So friendly..and sincere as well. What a shock when I moved to New Jersey! I’d have liked to shop in your Dad’s store. Enjoyed your post.

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    1. Thanks! Oh that’s a good point about the location factor. I have visited other places where good customer service and sincere friendliness seems more common. My dad’s approach in NY then especially stood out to me, and often still does since many times transactions here are rushed and curt…! And it can be the same in NJ; you’re so right. 🙂

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    1. Very true. I recently found a local Mom and Pop drugstore in my area and vowed to shop there more from now on. The owner was so nice and personable, I felt bad picturing myself bypassing his store and going into one of the nearby big chain drugstores…

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  6. It seems so natural that a blog called ‘SomeKernalsoftruth’ would publish such a wonderful post about the use of the word ‘friend’ as used by your dad. He was obviously a wise man and knew how to treat his customers in such a way to ensure they returned to his shop. That philosophy could be so easily transferred to our every day interactions. Thanks for sharing that great story.

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    1. Oh, thank you so much for your kind words! I did learn a lot from his approach and am glad it made for an interesting, helpful post. We definitely could all learn a lot from this kind of philosophy. Thanks again! 🙂

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  7. This is stunning! Your dad must have touched so many lives and surely there are people whose days he would have made better with that greeting. “Friend” is a deep word. There is so much to learn here. Thank you for sharing 🙂

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  8. I learned that one should not interact with people when they’re not in a good mood, if they can help it. You only get one first impression, and you don’t know how important that potential “friendship” will be down the road…how rewarding. I prefer to leave a nice impression of myself in everyone’s mind, and let them know I’m on their side. I find they’ll be more than happy to appear by my side when I need them. People want to be good to each other! Help make that choice to do so an easy one!

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    1. Ha, yes, things are different when it comes to the business of blogging. 🙂 But for the record, you haven’t struck me as out of line, just firm in your beliefs and willing to defend them, which is very different from unwarranted rudeness!

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