A friend of mine went to the local mall recently and in order to get into the building, she had to make her way through a crowd of smokers congregating at the entrance, presumably because they were in need of a fix and smoking is forbidden inside.

She found running this gauntlet of smoke unpleasant and, not being shy about speaking her mind, went directly to the information desk and informed them that she had not found it an appealing way to begin her shopping experience.

The reply she received, while civil, was singularly unhelpful: “I’m sorry, miss, but there is nothing I can do about it.”

I’m in the customer service business myself (see note) and I shudder when I hear stories like this.

A much better response might be: “I’m very sorry, miss. Your happiness is important to us. I will make sure that management hears about your concerns.”

I also shudder because I wonder what I and my managers are not hearing from our front line about our customers’ needs, wants, and desires.

Often, for every person who takes the time to give feedback, ten others have the same thought but don’t make the effort. I teach that we should be grateful that someone cares enough to give us feedback. It is valuable data and gives us a chance to improve.

In this particular instance, I’ve seen many buildings where a request is posted (and enforced) forbidding smoking within 50 feet of the entrance.

Note: Some people think that Paradigm Properties/The Collier Companies is in the business of renting apartments. Au contraire! The multifamily industry has grown soooooo far beyond just providing 4 walls and a roof. We actually are in the business of providing a pleasant living experience, the quality of which rests primarily with the perceptions of our customers. We provide homes for people to live in. I think that is one of the most important, responsible jobs anyone can have.