At the least, you are probably continuing to read this article because you are outraged at the title. What on earth do I mean, “don’t serve the customers?” But it was not a typographical error. DON’T SERVE YOUR CUSTOMERS. Instead, go out of your way to radically please them.
Alright, hook line explained, don’t feel like I’ve given you a six for a nine. There is a serious attitudinal difference between serving your customers and going out of your way to radically please them. It is the distinction between what everybody does, and what you as a business owner or employee can model and teach your staff, in order to gain and sustain a profitable edge over your competitors. It is the difference between the ice cream you buy on a Sunday afternoon from the cart passing along the road, (dry cone and all), and the gourmet-ice-cream-a-la-carte-on-a-waffle-cone-with-sprinkles that you drive miles to savor because it is not available everywhere.
Granted, you’d think that superior customer service would be easier to accomplish in smaller establishments, because there is a lesser volume of customers, more person to person contact, and more flexibility with the rules, should something go wrong. However, this is not my experience. If a small business, which depends a lot on face to face contact with its customers, does not take the time to train its employees to meet, greet and treat customers well, and to take the initiative in solving their problems, their customers’ experience will actually be worse than dealing with the impersonality of a bigger organization.
Haven’t you ever been to a small business where the employees sit back hopeless because “the boss not there” to facilitate the slightly less than life or death situation that you’ve been trying to get solved the last hour or two? Or a common irritating, response, (one that makes you wish you were super strong Bam Bam Rubble in The Flintstones, with his big thick club) is that “the person dealing with that is at lunch so call back later.” This, after you’ve spent about five minutes on your cell phone hoping for an answer.
Bigger companies spend more dollars to ensure customer service excellence, have more systems and regulations in place for proper running of business processes, and also provide greater avenues for customer feedback. In a small business, one sour employee who is pivotally placed to help a customer and does not, can make that customer walk out your door. On the other hand, a small business can use its size to its advantage by making each of its employees a radical customer service professional.
Teach your employees to pay special attention to every customer no matter who he or she is. Be passionate about who your customers are, what their needs are and how they can be met, how you can give added value at little or no cost to you, and how you can strategically please the customer to make him or her come back for repeat business. In subsequent articles, we will look at some of the best customer pleasing methods for small businesses who want to get the edge. We’d appreciate your feedback! Why don’t you drop us a line? The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa Dublin is the Director of OSSi, a six year old training company that facilitates presentations, seminars and workshops in effective public speaking, customer service excellence, employee motivation and excellence in the workplace.