Customer service excellence rewarded

Zoey Duncan

When everything else is at the whims of the economy, businesses still can control how well they treat their valued customers.
That was the message presented, along with plaques, at the 2011 Customer Service “People’s Choice” Contest wind-up last Wednesday evening at La Place Rendez-Vous in conjunction with the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce’s annual “Deck Party.”
“We believe this is something that is important for the community,” said Geoff Gillon, client services manager for the Rainy River Future Development Corp., which organizes the annual contest.
“Business gets tougher and tougher, and one of the interests that you do have control of is your customer service,” he noted.
“You can’t control the exchange rate and you can’t control the price of gas, but you definitely control customer service and how you treat your customers,” Gillon stressed.
The awards were handed out following a barbecue on the windy but sunny patio at the Rendez-Vous.
For the first time, online voting determined this year’s winners, in contrast to past years when “mystery shoppers” evaluated local businesses using detailed criteria.
Gillon acknowledged a few people took issue with the accessibility of online voting.
The 10 winners (in alphabetical order) were Cloverleaf Family Foods, Fort Frances General Supply, Fort Frances Times Ltd., La Place Rendez-Vous, Maddy’s Little Store, McTaggarts, Simplicity Professional Hair & Body Care, Super 8 Motel, Times Web Design, and West End Motors.
There also were five runners-up: Brockie’s Jewellers, Celeste’s, Fort Frances Enhanced Hearing Centre, Northwoods Gallery & Gifts, and Pharmasave.
“It’s very important, because if you’re not nice to your customers, they’re not going to come back,” reasoned Ravyn Godbout, owner of first-time winner Maddy’s Little Store on Second Street East.
“[Customer service] is probably the number-one thing,” she stressed. “If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business.
“Thank you to my customers and my awesome staff,” Godbout added.
The Fort Frances Times and Times Web Design walked away as customer service champions after entering the competition for the first time this year.
“It’s a little different because we’re not really selling a tangible, grab it with your hands kind of a deal,” noted Times Web Design marketing rep Leanne Beck.
“But we sell our service to people,” she explained.
“We just want to help all of our clients get what they want from their website, and hope that we’re providing them with everything that they’re looking for.”
Paul and Diane Noonan, owners of La Place Rendez-Vous, also were first-time entrants.
“In light of everything that’s happened with our economy, businesses in general are kind of struggling to make ends meet almost,” he noted.
“You’re trying to encourage business, so I think it was important in as much as it’s always been an important facet of our business.
“It’s something that I think we wanted to try and devote some more attention to,” Noonan added.
“We wanted to see how we measured up, but we wanted our staff to focus attention on it, as well.
“I’d just like to thank Rainy River Future Development for initiating the contest again, and I think it was well-received in the community,” Noonan said.