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Chamber will be implementing a new program in the coming months to reward businesses and employees that go above and beyond with customer service

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Chamber board member Casey Kaiser presented the Superior Customer Service Award to Bullseye Firearms owners Bill and Lissa Remington at the 2018 Chamber's Masquerade Gala and Awards Dinner, held this past April.

As Prineville grows with more residents and tourists, it's important that our businesses also grow in the level of service they provide. With newcomers in town, it's not enough to rely on the regulars, but to also attempt to bring in those new to our area.

As the visitor center, we are often called on by visitors. They ask for recommendations and often give feedback on what they think of our town, our businesses and our restaurants. Prineville is seen as friendly, quaint, and a great place to be a local. Most of the feedback is positive, with the occasional, "They spent so much time chatting with the locals, we got forgotten."

It's no surprise that in our small-town community, being one of the regular patrons is a perk of doing business around town. But it's also likely quite aggravating to be waiting and needing help, only to hear the clerk or waitress catching up on her weekend happenings with the person next to you. No matter what your industry or title, there are some basic customer service skill that will help you succeed and grow your business professionally, as well as the business you work for.

Greet all customers, not just the ones you know, and do your best to greet them with a smile. Ask about their day, where they came from. Friendly interaction not only gives your business a good image, but the entire Prineville community. Making a customer feel welcome is a simple, yet long-lasting skill.

Does the customer have a request that is out of your scope of training or knowledge? Don't leave them without help. If you can't get them an answer, find someone who can. Or better yet, offer other options as alternatives are normally easier to handle than just a "no."

Remember that the customer chose your business to help them fill a need. Don't rush them through to check the box of making another sale, rather, be patient and remember this is their time. Great service is much more important than fast service. And if a customer comes to you frustrated, take the time to stop and listen, rather than try and get rid of them. They are coming to you wanting a solution, and a business to taking the time to listen and understand will leave a lasting impression.

Along the line of having patience, it's important that every customer ends their service at a business with a positive interaction from beginning to end. Making sure they got what they needed, that they were happy with their interaction, and that your business cared enough to get things right is very important. And let the customer determine what is "right." It's not when the bill is paid, or the groceries are packaged. It's when the customers' needs are met, and they leave with a smile wanting to be a return patron in the future.

In the coming months , the Chamber will implement a new program to start rewarding our local businesses and employees that go above and beyond. Maybe you already have the skills mentioned. It's likely there are more we didn't touch on. We can't wait to learn and tell the stories of how our local establishments make Prineville a better place eat, shop and do business.

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