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It was a regular day and I was going to stop at the local, newly remodeled King Soopers  (A Kroger grocery store) to pick up some items. Now this was early in the morning and, by nature, the night crew is winding down and the day crew is winding up. I like to grocery shop really early to avoid the crowds, but this places me squarely in the employee performance twilight zone. This store has recently spent a ton of money reinstalling a licensed Starbucks outlet with its own entrance and nicely sized patio. So nice in fact that all eyes are drawn to the Starbucks redesign every time you pull into the parking lot.

And, here lies our problem. There is a rather large NO SMOKING sign placed on the front façade of the patio – large enough to be seen from 50 feet away – that indicates the forbidden practice of smoking on the patio. And yet, my regular first impression of the store is always the employees on their smoke break standing 15 feet from the sign. They could reach out and touch the patio railing (forbidden zone) as their cigarette smoke wafts over the entire area and if the wind is right, all the way to the front door of the grocery store.

I’m not a lightweight when it comes to tolerance of others habits, and I have dutifully worked in more than my share of secondhand smoke workplaces, but times have changed. It is CRAZY for any business to contemplate that any paying customer would like to be hit with cigarette smoke as a first impression, much less allow it. And it is also rather ludicrous to think that any paying customer would care to observe the smoking members of  your team hanging-out,  out front.

Go Now and get your union agreements, workplace laws, designated break areas and security procedures realigned. This may be a complicated fix in your eyes, but it is well worth the “brand” enhancement and professional image elevation.

Allowing your employees to smoke next to a NO SMOKING sign at the front of the store – Come ‘on – you’re better than that.

I live a regular life. No one is shopping for me. No one drives me around. I go out, like most folks do and I experience things like most folks do. The difference is – I know what it takes to create great customer service and quite frankly, many in business don’t seem to have a clue about how to create more than a transaction.

So, from now on – I’m going to write about my experience with YOUR customer service – the good, the bad and the really ugly. I’ll be covering what happened to me and what should have happened if it went off the rails. Hopefully, somewhere, somehow this will provide a launching pad for positive change.

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