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Exhibiting a Customer-Friendly Attitude

One thing all people who give great service have in common is that they have a genuine customer-friendly attitude. You view your customers as the most important part of your job and sincerely appreciate that they choose to do business with you. That sincerity is the basis for great customer service that will keep your customers coming back.

Communicating and establishing relationships are really the essence of your job. They don't have to take a long time, and they often happen in an instant. The bad news is that making a customer an enemy for life can take just as little time. When you call a company on the phone and the telephone rings ten times before someone picks it up, what kind of connection has that company made with you? More than likely, a negative relationship has been created before any business is transacted. These connections, as simple and quick as they are, are moments of truth for the customer.

Some simple yet high profile opportunities to create positive moments of truth include the following:

  • Answer the phone with a greeting before identifying yourself or your company. Doing so starts the conversation out on the right foot.

  • Become more aware of your facial expression when a customer approaches you. A smile works much better than a grimace. Customers often judge your mood on how you look when they approach you.

  • Don't take it personally when a customer complains. Think of a complaint for what it is, an opportunity to get valuable feedback from your customers. You listen better if you don't feel threatened.

  • Always offer options when you can't give customers exactly what they want. Your customers can live with a no if it is softened by alternative recommendations.

  • Before transferring a customer to another extension (if you must), ensure that the service provider is available before completing the transfer. A dead end transfer creates a negative impression.

The customer-focused company

A customer-focused company has one eye on profits and the other eye on how best to serve its customers. This company has learned that profit and market share are the product of listening to customers and acting upon their needs. Following are some qualities that characterize a customer-focused organization:

  • Recognition is earned by staff who balance job efficiency with customer satisfaction.

  • Managers focus their attention on supporting staff in doing their jobs well so that the staff can focus their attention on taking care of customer needs.

  • Promotion is based on good service skills as well as on seniority.

  • Training staff is a high priority with a focus on both technical and interpersonal skills.

  • All staff know who their customers are (external or internal) and see how they are part of the customer chain.

  • A participative management style is common throughout the company, and staff feedback is sought on key customer issues before decisions are made.

  • Long-term thinking is the rule rather than the exception.

One international hotel does regular guest tracking to monitor customer satisfaction. The results are then forwarded to the general managers at each location. Information such as how one hotel site compares to the others in the same region, as well as specific information on each department (front desk, check out, restaurant, and so on), is made available. Management bonuses are based on these guest-tracking results, and a yearly achievement forum is held to acknowledge those staff and locations whose guest tracking scores are the highest.

It pays to please

Customers love and cherish those companies that treat them the way they like to be treated — they'll even pay more to obtain these services! Here are some recent survey statistics that prove the point:

  • Most customers will spend up to 10 percent more for the same product with better service.

  • When a customer receives good service, he or she tells 9 to 12 people on average.

  • When a customer receives poor service, he or she tells up to 20 people.

  • An 82 percent chance exists that customers will repurchase from a company if their complaints are handled quickly and pleasantly.

  • If the service is really poor, 91 percent of retail customers won't go back to a store.

Another survey found that 98 percent of customer interactions were faster and more efficient when the service provider took the time to establish a relationship and create a rapport with the customer.

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