MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - In the throes of holiday shopping chaos, the little things could make all the difference.
"Most of the time, you're spending your hard earned dollars and you want to feel welcome," explained Evon Moss of Montgomery.
That welcome feeling may translate into cold hard cash.
"One of the things I hear a lot--[when] people go elsewhere. They get treated nicer in other places," said Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange.
Merchants are struggling when it comes to generating sales tax revenue.
The latest figures (from October 2009) show neighboring Prattville has an edge, generating $1,046,000 surpassing last year's figures by 22%.
Meanwhile, Montgomery fell another 3% to $6,500,000. Mayor Strange says customer service may be to blame.
"There are wonderful stores in our community with great customer service. There are others we really need to work on," he said.
It's a hot commodity in the commercial realm. 'Service with a smile' means more repeat customers.
"The same customers come back in. Most of them remember your faces and remember your name. Some of them--we even know what they want before they order," explained Katoria Bennett, an employee at Moe's Southwest Grill on Zelda Road.
Of course, some shoppers have their share of bad experiences..
"Sometimes you go in stores and cashiers or representatives don't even notice you. They don't look up at you. They don't say, 'How are you doing?'," Moss said.
Many businesses--especially retailers--are trying to keep customers happy.
"They tell you whether you're doing a good job or not. And if you don't use customer service, we'll lose our members. They won't come back," said Ronnie Goolsby, membership manager at Sam's Club.
"Anywhere that you have good customer service, people want to come there," said Jean Knight of Montgomery.
"If somebody's acting like a scrooge, who wants to go there?"
It's a mindset that could leave a lasting impact on the local economy.
"...Buying in Montgomery County is beneficial to our school system, to our sheriff, to our law enforcement and others," Strange said.