Wednesday, October 31, 2007

5 Customer Contact Guidelines

I just read this by Dan Kennedy

5 Customer Contact Guidelines

Picking up with the important topic of Customer Service Diplomacy, I'd like to give you five simple success guidelines for your contact with customers. You might want to make a list of these guidelines and place them in a handy place for future reference. I believe that implementing these five steps can help you have a better day every day.

#1: Repeat business, positive word-of-mouth advertising, satisfied customer, customer's positive perceptions...these are the keys to a company developing a stable successful business. These are the keys to an individual's career security and advancement. These are controlled by you in five simple success guidelines. Success guideline #1 is remembering you are your company to its public. At Disney they found out that their maintenance workers were the company to its public. In every business the customer's view those they had the easiest and most frequent contact with as the company and that's you. You may be underestimating the power and influence you have over other people. Most of us do. The truth is that you can and do have great influence over others. You can turn a person's bad day into a good day or vice versa, a grouch into a friendly person. Even a person with a complaint into a person happy with how he is being treated. In this increasingly hectic, stressful world with more and more traffic and traffic jams, diverse demands on our time, normal job pressures, the public, the customer is often close to the end of his rope before he even gets to you. For example, into the diner came an obvious frazzled tired man. "Just give me a couple eggs over easy and a kind word," he said. The waitress brought the eggs and started to leave. He asked, "What about the kind word?" "Don't eat the eggs," she replied. Customers often just want a kind word, a sincere smile, an honestly pleasant greeting to be made to feel welcome and important.

Success guideline #2 is to treat each customer like your closest friend. I've been in retail stores or restaurants and observed sales people, store clerks or waiters and waitresses, going through the motions of their jobs almost sleep walking until a favorite customer or close friend comes in. Then the clerk perks up, smiles, comes alive, is a different person altogether. I'm sure you've observed this same thing. When a person cultivates the ability to express that kind of friendliness and enthusiasm with everyone he or she has a tremendous advantage that must eventually be a great career advancement value. You might think about it this way. We all share the same basic human needs, desires and motivations. You, I and every customer or client we deal with. One of the most basic of those needs is the desire to feel important. You don't want to be an account number, a file or just another customer. You want to be recognized and treated as someone does everybody else.

Success guideline #3 is that customer diplomacy always gets first priority. Of course everything you do is important. Every aspect and fascet of your job is important, otherwise why do it at all? And you are undoubtedly often faced with conflicting priorities. Still something has to be slightly more important than other things and for us to win the game of attracting and keeping happy customers that thing that is at least slightly more important than all other things has to be customer diplomacy. It has to be a fixed, number one priority beneath which all other tasks, chores and projects order themselves as second, third, fourth and fifth priorities. Here's the simple very basic reason why this makes so much sense. Without an ever increasing number of truly satisfied customers nothing else matters. Repeat business is the most important business. That's where most profit is derived from, that's where stability comes from, and that's the foundation of a solid secure business. In the constant understandable battle for your attention, interest and energy between the customer and your other job responsibilities we have to let the customer win every time.

Success guideline #4 is to remember that it is really the customer who controls your paycheck, your promotions, your raises and your job security. Yes it's your future but it is you and the customer who will decide it. One big company did an extensive survey of all their employees. One of the questions in the survey was...where does your paycheck come from? Over 80% responded with the accounting department. About 10% said the bank. Of course we know that the paychecks are worthless without sales and profit revenue to back them up and that comes from customers. It cannot come from anywhere else, at least not for very long. When stress and tension has accumulated, things have gone wrong during the day and your patience is worn a little thin before you let yourself vent it on a customer you may want to remember that he controls your paycheck. Even visualize him signing your check or discussing your next pay raise with you. That's the idea. Respond to each customer as if he was the person you'll be discussing your next raise with.

Success guideline #5 says that customer service diplomacy means going the extra mile. Doing a little more or a little better than might be expected of you or accepted from you. After all is there any real virtue or satisfaction in just being average, the best of the worst, the worst of the best? If you are going to work at your job, which is after all your choice and you are going to put in your time why not also put in your very best efforts? I could just about guarantee you this when you consistently go the extra mile you'll receive better treatment from your customers and you will create career advancement. Rome wasn't built in a day though don't be too impatient. We live in a very instant oriented society...instant coffee, instant tea, instant microwave dinners. Success though is rarely instant. Going the extra mile is a behavioral investment that may take time to pay dividends like the spring planting takes months to produce a harvest.

To Your Success....


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