Whether it is in your personal or professional life, The Golden Rule still applies: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Too often in business, we spend all of our time on one side of the equation and fail to get that customer perspective. Systems, policies, and procedures that make total sense to you because you deal with them daily, may be a complete and utter mystery to your customers.
Recently, I had the occasion to make a major equipment purchase for my business. After being shuffled from one department to the next, told to "Wait", "Come back later", and "There's no one here that can help you," I realized that in a free-enterprise, market-driven economy, I was working way too hard to spend my money. Customer service is the key to any successful business that deals with the public or even in a business-to-business environment.
Whenever possible, call your business on the main number simply to experience how the phone is answered. You may be in for a surprise. A national survey indicated that six out of 10 businesses could not be identified by the average caller, even though the operator supposedly answered the phone with the name of the business. In addition to being polite and professional, phone people must speak distinctly so that their name and the name of the organization can be clearly understood.
Seek feedback from clients or customers who walk into your place of business or conduct their transactions online or via the mail. It doesn't matter how convenient it is for you. It matters greatly how convenient it is for your customer.
Whenever possible, empower the people who deal with customer complaints and problems to resolve the problem immediately. Customers with complaints reported a satisfactory resolution to their problems in direct proportion to how few people they were forced to speak with and how little paperwork they were required to complete. Proper customer service can turn a complaint into a long-term positive relationship and can turn your current customers and clients into an ongoing sales and marketing tool for your business.
That old wisdom still applies: Your customers do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. Today, resolve to let your customers know how valuable they truly are.
Today's the day!
Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author, columnist, and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082, or by e-mail at JimStovall@aol.com.