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The Vermont Country Store’s Customer Bill of Rights

Today I received a gift and I am going to share it with you. It is a brown paper bag, like you would get from any grocery store or gift store. But this bag is special!

My friend Bates Childress works with the College of St. Joseph in Vermont. They have an internship program that places students with The Vermont Country Store, a bricks and  mortar retailer, catalog company and online e-tailer.  There is much that the students learn from working there, and one of the best business lessons is printed right on the side of their shopping bags.  It is The Vermont Country Store Customer Bill of Rights. I’ve written about customer bill of rights before, but this one is different.

The first time I saw something similar to this bag was the city of Seattle, Washington’s Customer Service Bill of Rights. It promised excellent customer service to their customers, who happen to be the citizens of Seattle. While most Customer Bill of Rights focus on an organization’s obligation and promise to deliver a high level of customer service, The Vermont Country Store’s is a little different. While this obviously showcases the outcomes the customer should expect, it is really the obligation that the customer has to The Vermont Country Store.

This is important. It’s a little twist on the concept, like a play on words. But, it is powerful. The customers have an obligation and are expected to demand courteous service as a top
priority, and much more. They are expected to take action by reporting any shortcomings.

One other point worth mentioning: The Bill of Rights is printed on the side of the bags that the customer carries home.

Here they are:

Our Customer Bill of Rights

1. To expect polite, courteous service.

2. To be the top priority of the moment.

3. To expect all sales people to know about their merchandise.

4. To expect quality merchandise, service or delivery, and to report any shortcomings.

5. To compliment superior quality of service and merchandise.

6. To expect The Vermont Country Store to stand behind its merchandise.

7. To expect any adjustments in merchandise to be made in the most convenient manner.

8. To expect accurate and efficient record keeping, despite the computer or other problems.

9. 100% Guaranteed Satisfaction. Enjoy risk-free shopping! We will exchange any item or refund your money, without hassle or fuss, whether shopping by catalogue, online or in our stores.

If you have been reading my columns, articles and blog posts, you know I love lists. I can’t think of one of the above obligations that wouldn’t work for any business.

If you don’t already have a Customer Bill of Rights, you may want to consider putting one together. Start with the above nine obligations. Then add some of your own. Work on this with your employees and watch how they buy into the concepts. And most important of all, if you create a Customer Bill of Rights, be prepared to deliver. These are promises and obligations that you must live by.

In closing, what would you add to the above list? Please let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert,  professional  speaker and New York Times   bestselling business author. For information contact (314) 692-2200 or http://www.hyken.com.  For information on The  Customer  Focus™ customer service training programs go to http://www.thecustomerfocus.com.   Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
(Copyright ©MMXII, Shep Hyken)

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