The first Women’s Biz Connection was quite a success, with representation from over a dozen businesses and the Chickasaw Nation. Barbara Rackley of the Women’s Business Center in Durant welcomed guests and introduced OSU extension directors Keegan Varner of Johnston County and Janna Kelley of Pontotoc County.The PRIDE program teaches business owners about how to instill great customer service skills in their front line employees. PRIDE stands for Producing Resourceful Informed Devoted Employees.

Front line employees are the first contact for the business and for the community. This is true for tourists and travelers, people looking to relocate to Johnston County, and business owners on the hunt for a new place to set up shop. Local residents almost always have non-local option for shopping, and customer service is critical to retaining local dollars. Statistics say that 14% of customers quit a business because they are dissatisfied with a product, but 68% quit because of poor customer service. Keep in mind that tourists may not stop at quitting one business, but may quit the whole town, not come back, and give poor referrals to friends and family interested in visiting the area. Happy, satisfied customers can be obtained by having a happy, satisfying environment, seeing happy employees, and noticing a meaningful mission of the business.

A few more stats and why we need to be teaching our front line staff how to give excellent customer service:
– If a customer has a positive experience, they will tell 5 people
– If a customer has a negative experience, they will tell 9-10 people
– 13% tell 20 people
– For every problem, 26 don’t complain but just won’t come back
– 54-70% of customers will do business again if a complaint is resolved
– 90% of customers will do business again if a problem is resolved quickly

A customer usually forms a first impression of a business within 6 seconds. A few tips:

– Greet customers promptly
– Have eye contact (No one wants to talk to someone looking at their phone)
– Smile with your voice
– Look your best

Tishomingo is very fortunate to have the many tourist draws that we do. Hospitality is especially key for communities like ours, so:

– Know directions to area attractions (and make sure your employees do too)
– Know directions to businesses
– Know the products and services offered in your business and others
– Know the community (main attractions, special events, etc.)

If you are looking for resources that point out some of the attractions in our area, visit the Chamber’s ‘Plan a Visit‘ page, give us a call, or just ask around. Our next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 28th from 11:30 – 1 p.m. so mark your calendar! It was suggested that a social media/Google program is needed, so we are working to find great presenters for that. See you there!

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