Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Customer Service or Sabotage?

You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Making a good impression is like leaving a smile on someone’s face. Whether it is a first impression or a lasting impression, it should always be a good one when it comes to customer service.

Building upon the idea that your customers are considered the bloodline of your business, we should investigate the level of customer service that we give and receive. A local radio station performed a skit that outlined the scenario of a drive through window of a fast food restaurant. The establishment never seemed to have available the menu item advertised as the “special” and when the customer inquired, they were received by a negative attitude. When the customer requested the manager, instead of appeasing the customer, they also had an “I don’t care” attitude”.

What’s wrong with this picture? Extremely poor customer service. Unfortunately, this is what many of us experience on a day to day basis. Have we lost the “customer” in “customer service” and replaced it with “customer sabotage”? Is it realized that bad customer service can sabotage any business? Whatever happened to down home, neighborly service offered to everyone who inquired about or sought to purchase our goods and service? Your next customer may not be known from childbirth like in small towns, but you should strive to make them feel as though they are welcome, wanted and needed. Without them, your business would not survive.

The primary goal of a business is to meet or exceed the customer’s expectations of a product or service. The basic model for business put into a formula can be understood as:

PRODUCTS / SERVICES are sold for $$$ received from CUSTOMERS.

The goal is to receive money to operate and the money comes from the customers who purchase from you, repeatedly if possible. With the foundation of a business operating on LAND, LABOR and CAPITAL, it is understood that there is no decision made in any area of business that does not impact the customer. Each decision that is made in the operations of a business affects the customer. The customer is the focus. They may not always be right, but they should feel good about purchasing from you. Happy customers become repeat customer which in turn your business will continue to survive and grow.

Today’s customer demand value for their money, a timely response and quality products and services. With the stress level of the average American at its highest to date, the last thing someone wants to do is deal with someone who is having a bad day or a “bad life” in general. What’s worst is when that customer does not relay their bad experience to you. They simply take their business elsewhere and they take their money with them. They tell their friends and relatives, and loss is multiplied. What does this mean to you? It equates to less money flowing into your company and it dominoes to putting gas in your vehicle and paying your mortgage, etc.

Demonstrating the art of good customer service is as valuable as having accurate bookkeeping. Balancing reaction and action is an art. When a customer feels valued, they bring others along with them and you benefit from one satisfied customer.

When hiring staff to represent your company, what do you look for? What are the qualities that stand out in each individual? Do they stand for what your company’s vision and mission? Is training available to improve customer relations?

A bad attitude can be portrayed by an over-aggressive or “know it all” personality. Poor grammar, inappropriate or foul language, intolerance, constant complaining, lack of confidence, passive or ill-mannered and cynical behaviors destroy potential sales. Everyone has a bad day now and then. The problem exists when we forget to leave them at the door when we arrive at work.

Make a good impression in someone’s life today, make them feel worthy of your good service and attitude. You will be rewarded with the sale ad possibly referrals and repeat sales. Like the old adage, “Don’t bit at the hand that feeds you”.


MissSensuale said...

This is a very wise and timely post, as I just read yesterday about the power of 'being nice'. Yes, people will pay 'extra' just to get niceness in return---$1000 extra for first class and being treated 'nice' by the attendant, $10 tip to the bartender for getting 'extra friendliness', $5 more to the valet for a smile that lights up and says "thank you".

So, if you can imagine that you can provide that 'extra niceness' without it costing more for you OR your customers, then you may be on to something.