Much is written every day on sites like this advising businesses how to manage customer service online and offline; even better how to flow seamlessly between the two worlds (real and virtual).  What often gets lost in the conversation is that you, the business owner, are not the only ones going back and forth. So are your customers!

Case in point

My weekend routine includes taking my daughter to ice skating at the Sports Center of CT in Shelton, CT. While she glides around the ice, my young son and I putter around the complex with little to do. There is the obligatory arcade of video games and I am grateful the little guy is happy to just sit and steer through the game trailers without realizing I'm not actually feeding the meter on a real game.

This weekend I noticed there was a new video game out, "The House Of The Undead", or some such dreck. It was awful. The trailer featured zombie-like creatures literally chainsawing and ax-hacking people to death with projectile bleeding and flying body parts. At one point, I saw a little boy of about three stock still in front of the screen mesmerized by the images. As a mom and school teacher (my other career), I was horrified.

I asked for manaagement.

Better than that, I got the owner.

I politely voiced my concerns. He politely listened.

Better than that, he politely vowed to take action.

He explained the video game vendor switches out the games all of the time and admitted he wasn't aware of this latest game in his sports complex. He promised he would have it removed within the week. I thanked him and went about my puttering.

Better than that, he emerged a couple of minutes later and unplugged the video game. He then updated me that it would be removed by Monday.

As the customer, I now know a lot about this business that I didn't know before (though my daughter has been taking ice skating lessons there for a year now).

I know:

- As gi-normous as this sports complex is, it's locally owned. In fact, the owner is accessible and on-site even on weekends.

- He also cares about kids.

- He also listens to Moms and takes action. Immediate action (Moms love that, by the way).

What he doesn't know about me:

- Just before the video game thing, I had inquired about golf camp. It's a bit pricey and I was on the fence. After the way the owner responded to my concerns, I made a beeline back to the golf desk and signed up my daughter for a $189 worth of lessons. I may be able to find cheaper lessons for her in my community. But, I know she's in the hands of a business that cares about its young customers. So, I don't care.

- I write about and for small businesses. So, I have a very visible platform to plug his business out of gratitude.

- I'm doing it right now. (Again, it's the Sports Center of CT in Shelton, CT.)

Nothing beats a real-life in the flesh positive experience with a customer. While social networking and online reviews, etc. are revolutionizing word-of-mouth advertising, it is only as good as the good words your customers have to say about you. That only comes with experiences like the one I had this weekend. If you have a bricks and mortar business, that's where your customer relationships still need to be built. Just don't be surprised where it leads. That truly is the revolutionary part.

So word to the wise, when a concerned middle-aged Mom looking very Saturday morning, like she just rolled out of her mini-van (i.e. minimal make-up and half-damp hair), shows up in a twist about something; hear her out. You just never know where her gratitude might show up (like on a national magazine's highly ranked web site, for example).

Again, that's the Sports Center of CT in Shelton, CT. They host corporate events, too, by the way.