One should not dwell on the negative. But for the sake of making a point a bit later on, I’ll indulge in the negative just for a moment.
Question: Have you ever heard someone share, in minute detail, an experience of poor customer service? Most of us have. Upon hearing it, you know without a doubt the teller has already shared the story with a multitude of friends and acquaintances. And now you too have the “privilege” of being in the know.
As they relate to operating a successful business, attracting visitors to a community and enticing visitors to return, these stories of poor customer service have far-reaching, damaging implications. Any business manager with any experience knows this. Yes, negative reinforcement works — to our common detriment.
The intent of the Chamber’s establishment of 2011 as a Year of Customer Service is to leverage the power of positive reinforcement. We believe this must become and remain a high priority for our community. The Newton area is competing with communities of similar size for visitors, shoppers and new residents. The prizes for the winners include more profitable businesses and a higher quality of life.
The Get Caught program, along with the Stand and Deliver Boot Camps, are two major Chamber 2011 initiatives. Get Caught is designed to encourage employers and employees to “get caught” in the act of providing not just good, but exceptional, customer service.  It therefore also encourages any and all Newtonians to be on the lookout for persons providing this high level of service and to report it.
Here’s what you can do to confirm and encourage exceptional customer service and what you can do to make a difference in our community.
1. When you experience great customer service report it to the Chamber. This can be done in several ways. You can e-mail your experience. Two or three sentences is usually all that is needed. Send it to Billi Jo Wilson, who is managing this project, at billi@thenewtonchamber.org. You may visit our blog site to post your comments at www.getcaughtnewton.blogspot.com, or you may call or write the Chamber. Customers, whether they are your fellow workers (internal customers), or anyone you do business with (external customers), can be reported.
2. You can provide exceptional customer service yourself and set yourself up to be “caught.”
Those “caught,” as well as those doing the “catching,” are being highlighted in the Newton Kansan each Tuesday. Thank you for your community support Kansan! We will also post reports on the Chamber website.
Let’s work together to make the Newton/North Newton community the poster child for great customer service.

  Jim Schwarzenberger is the  Executive Director of the Newton Area Chamber of Commerce.