How many times have you been the victim of poor customer service? At one time or another, we’ve all been on the receiving end of bad manners. Perhaps when you walked into a store, the salespeople were more interested in finding out what each other had done the night before rather than helping you. Maybe you made a phone call to request service and were greeted with the smack, smack, smack of chewing gum. Could be you asked a question about how to use a new product only to see boredom and disdain cloud the eyes of the support person just before he lapsed into condescending language with you.
I’ve heard (and passed along) horror stories like these—and much worse. There was the clerk chatting away on her cell phone, never bothering to ask if I needed help, and the receptionist who didn’t look up from her magazine until I had reached her desk and stood there for some time.
Usually we leave these businesses with distaste and disappointment, our money still tucked in our wallets. The next time we need a similar service or product, we go elsewhere. We’re not likely to return to the place where we were treated rudely and where customer service is not a priority.
In my business etiquette presentations, I ask for a show of hands from those people who will go out of their way and pay more money for the same product or service because they prefer being treated with kindness and respect. Just about every hand goes up and heads nod.
It is common knowledge that all things being equal, we tend to do business with people we know, like and trust. And when all things are not equal, we still tend to do business with people we know, like and trust.
Good manners and customer service are one and the same.
Any business that doesn’t understand that customer relations have everything to do with success will not be around long. If we treat people well, they will become loyal customers. If we treat them poorly, they will leave. Worse, they’ll tell all their friends about their poor customer service experience.
There’s one basic rule to teach every employee at your company whether you own a Fortune 500 or a mom and pop store on the corner. It’s the Golden Rule. Treat your customers and clients the way that you want to be treated. Better yet adopt the Platinum Rule and treat your customers the way they want to be treated.
When people enter your business, greet them immediately. Smile and make eye contact.
Hold the door open when you see them coming. Rise when someone enters your office.
Call people by name. Wow!
Don’t keep people waiting. When they must wait, tell them how long it will be and make them comfortable by offering a cup of coffee or a glass of water and something to read.
Listen attentively when your customers have problems and offer to help.
Take responsibility when things go wrong even if it wasn’t your fault. The most irate customer can be calmed by this selfless act in a world so accustomed to the lively game of blame.
It really isn’t complicated. If we treat clients and customers with courtesy, we send a message that we value them. When people feel valued, they come back. But if they sense you couldn’t care less about them or their needs, they will look around until they find someone who does care. It may take awhile, but when it happens, your customer is history.
An investment in customer service training is one of the best investments you will ever make in your business.
If I can help, let me know.
Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.
Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions. Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.
Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.