Guest speaker Alan Lindsay, of SkillPath Seminars, listens to audience comments during a customer service seminar Thursday at the Holiday Inn, which was sponsored by the Craig Chamber of Commerce and other local agencies and businesses. Several times during the event, Lindsay asked for comments and stories from the attendees and asked them to workshop situations in groups.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Guest speaker Alan Lindsay, of SkillPath Seminars, listens to audience comments during a customer service seminar Thursday at the Holiday Inn, which was sponsored by the Craig Chamber of Commerce and other local agencies and businesses. Several times during the event, Lindsay asked for comments and stories from the attendees and asked them to workshop situations in groups.

'Smart thing to do, right thing to do'

Chamber hosts customer service seminar

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— The community spoke, and the Craig Chamber of Commerce listened.

The Chamber hosted a community service seminar for area businesses Thursday at the Holiday Inn. Sixty-six people out of a possible 120 attended the seminar.

Alan Lindsay delivered the presentation for SkillPath Seminars, a national business seminar firm. Lindsay has practiced as an international business consultant and trainer for seven years.

Public opinion directed the Chamber's hand in this case, executive director Christina Currie said.

"The community has said in spades this is a critical issue for us," Currie said.

Besides community feelings, Currie sees customer service as a grave issue that determines whether local businesses can compete in a contracting world.

"Customer service is the last major weapon for small towns to compete on what is becoming a global scale," Currie said, addressing Internet shopping and national retail and restaurant chains.

Lindsay said as much during his presentation.

"The attitude of wanting to shop local is facilitated by good customer service," he said. "We need good customer service to justify that unique downtown experience over the big box stores."

The number of participants didn't disappoint Currie, she said. A lot of local businesses expressed interest, but said they couldn't attend because they didn't have enough employees to cover a busy time of year.

What did upset Currie were the types of businesses in the audience.

"The people attending were from businesses that obviously make customer service a priority," she said. "The retail sector and the restaurant sector were not represented the way we thought they would be. It would have been really nice to get a lot of businesses send their frontline employees, like wait staff and store clerks."

Those in the audience gave a lot of feedback, which Currie felt made the seminar effective. Lindsay often invited the audience to discuss amongst themselves in groups or tell him what their specific problems were.

Don Cameron, KFC/Taco Bell manager, was pleased with the seminar and the comments from the audience.

"This is better than I expected," he said. "I'm happy to see the participation. I want my business to be regarded as very good to the customers, and I feel like I have very, very good customer service people."

Many attendees appreciated Lindsay's message, they said.

"Someone at my table put it really well," said Tracy Caddy, Colorado Northwest Community College Beauty School director. "She said, 'Good prices may be forgotten, but good service is never forgotten.' We want our businesses to be here forever, and to be here forever, we have to get people coming back."

Lindsay's message to businesses was direct.

"Obviously, it's the smart thing to do," he said. "It's the right thing to do."

The Chamber expects its next seminar to address advertising and marketing, Currie said. It probably would take place in February 2008, after hunting season and the holidays.

Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

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