Posts Tagged ‘benefit’

Customer Service: Grounded in a Statement

July 1, 2015

When I was in high school I, like many of my classmates, decided that a practical class to take would be something in business, so I took DECA, as one of my courses.  DECA, which stands for Distributive Education Clubs of America, taught me many important lessons on things like store security, advertising, and of course customer service.  At the end of the class, we were supposed to give a presentation on a specific area, and mine was store security; more specific in my case was money, and how to spot counterfeit bills.

It was a result of this class that I started to develop what would later become my customer service statement, which is “I am not here to give customers what they want, but to give them what they need, and to help them make the most of what they have.”  Keeping focus on this statement has continued to help me give customers the best service I have in my power to give, for years.

Customer service is the culmination of what you’ve learned, and what you believe when it comes to how you treat relationships with individuals in a business setting.  Your interactions with customers will either enforce, or alter your beliefs in this matter, but when you take the time to write it down in a statement, it gives you a solid foundation to work from.  There are many situations I’ve personally come across that would have ruined my relationship with my customers if I didn’t have something to work from.

If you are in contact with customers on a regular basis, whether employee, owner, or self- employed, it would be a good Idea for you to come up with a customer service statement, that will  leave your relationship with your customers on solid ground.  I don’t want you to just copy mine, because you need to put it in your own words; this is the only way you can make it a part of your own business experience.  I will, however, go over the thought process behind my statement in order to help make coming up with your own a little easier.

I AM NOT HERE TO GIVE CUSTOMERS WHAT THEY WANT

I don’t know who said it first, but no phrase in business makes me want to slap someone across the face more than “The customer is always right.”  Not only is this not true, but it has destroyed more business, customer relationships than any other philosophy in customer service.  Some customers want everything free, they want it now, and they don’t care if you break the rules as long as you give them what they want; in short, they want everything for nothing.  That is a very fast way to losing your business.

I used to work at Burger King (yes, I admit it.) and I was working the drive through.  We had a customer pull up to the speaker, and I began with my cheerful “Welcome to Burger King, how may I help you?”  To which the customer replied, “I’m not ready yet.”

“Just let me know when you’re ready to order.”

“OK, I’ll let you know.”  He replied.

5 minutes passed, then seven, which is when I asked, “Would you like a little more time?”

“Of course not,” he snapped, “I’ve been waiting here for ten minutes, for you to take my order.”  He quickly placed his order, and sped up to the window.  The moment I opened the window to accept the money, and give him the food, he started yelling at the top of his voice how we had the worst customer service, and how it was supposed to be “FAST” food, then asked for the manager.  The whole tirade I never said a word, because I figure it was better to let him vent, than to give him the satisfaction of letting him ruin my day.

The manager came to the window, and after the customer gave her an earful, she held up her hand, and said, “Then, sir, you should have never told him you would let him know when you were ready.” As the customer drove away red faced, and humiliated, I said in the most pleasant voice I could, “Thank you, have a nice day.”

In this case, the customer was both wrong and trying to bring me down with him. In many cases the customer will be wrong.  It does no good to yell back, because that will bring your day down, and prove the customer right.  The best way to deal with an irate customer is to acknowledge their error in a patient, and respectful manner.  They may have had a bad day, and are looking for someone to take it out on, so look for every opportunity to make their day better, instead of fueling their anger.

GIVE THEM WHAT THEY NEED

I don’t care what you do for a living, sales, marketing, service, whatever it is, your customers are coming to you to meet a specific need.  You wouldn’t go to a church to buy an apple, and you wouldn’t go the produce section of a grocery store to find Jesus, unless he needs an apple.

There are two very important things you need in order to supply your customers with what they need.  One is knowledge of what you are supplying.  If your job is selling computers, a good knowledge of computers can help your customers make an informed decision.  If, however, your knowledge is poor, your customer can end up with a piece of crap, and you could lose the sale, and the customer.

The other thing you absolutely need is the ability to listen.  Customer service is all about maintaining a relationship between a business, and the customer.  At the core of all successful relationships is communication, and a key to communicating effectively is listening to the entire message of the other person.  When you try to get ahead of the conversation, or cut the other person off before they’ve had a chance to finish speaking, you miss important parts of their message, and that could lead to miscommunication, and the ruin of that relationship.

One of the jobs I had was working at Inness Photo.  This is one of those stores that processes photographs, and sells cameras.  Being a nature photographer, I understand cameras, and what people can use to get the shots they want.  I can’t count the number of times a customer came in with a copy of Consumer Reports looking for the wrong camera.  The best example I can think of, and there are a lot, is the customer looking for a point and shoot to photograph birds.

Most birds are unapproachable, and point and shoots don’t have the range to get close enough to most birds.  She pointed at the 12x digital zoom, and I told her about the differences between digital, and optical zoom.  In the end, what I sold her was a Canon Digital SLR with a 300mm through 600mm zoom.

She came in a couple of weeks later to print her pictures, and to let us know how happy she was with the purchase.

HELP THEM GET THE MOST OUT OF WHAT THEY HAVE

This part of my statement came from my own philosophy of helping people get the most out of what they already possess.  I think the company that best illustrates their commitment to helping customers get more from what they have, is Best Buy.  In order to help customers who aren’t computer savvy, but who own computers, they came up with the Geek Squad.  Not only have they helped me find a decent computer, that fit in my budget, and equip it with the latest version of Microsoft Office, but they have fielded my calls with computer questions, and helped me in wonderful ways.

Another thing that has happened numerous times, at Inness Photo, is that customers will come in looking for help with camera equipment that they can’t yet figure out.  It was for these types of customers that I added this to my statement.

If I sell a camera to a customer and send them away, I would be no better than Walmart, whose sales staff, in my personal experience, knows less about the products than the customers.  If you can help people achieve more from a computer, camera, phone, whatever they have, you can not only gain a possible customer that you didn’t have before, but you can also keep an existing customer that you might have lost if you couldn’t help them.

This isn’t limited to just products. You can help customers get the most out of a service you offer, to help them save time, and money.

Here is something that just happened to me recently to illustrate this. My wife, and I have been Verizon customers for a number of years, and last February our latest contract was up.  It was time to see about their latest deal to upgrade from the I-phone 4.  I did a little research, and with the amount I saved up, I was able to go up to an I-phone 5.  I thought it was a great deal, so I went to Verizon to exchange my old phone.

The sales representative pulled up my account and shocked me with a bit of good news.  He informed me that as good customers, with a long history, we qualified for the edge program which meant we could get the 5s for a few dollars each month instead of paying for the phone now, and the only thing I would have to pay for at this moment would be any accessories I might want.  On top of that, because of staying with them so long, our monthly bills could go down, instead of up.

I agreed to the 5s, got the Otter Box, to protect my phone, and took the service changes, which ends up taking ten dollars off my monthly bill.  As he was processing my order, he made the comment that saving customers like that is great for the customers, but probably not for Verizon.  I told him what I will tell you now.  What he did was the best thing he could ever do for Verizon, to which he gave me a puzzled look.  I told him that what he did was keep a customer for Verizon.  It was his concern to save the customer money, and give the best deal that will keep me coming back anytime I need a new accessory, or help with a problem.

I’ve been working with customers, in one way or other, for over 37 years, and maintaining a good relationship with those customers, using this statement as my guide.  As you come up with a statement of your own, some of you will do it in only a few minutes, and some of you will take a while longer.  It doesn’t matter how long you take, just make sure it is a true reflection of your customer relations philosophy, and that it benefits both you, and the customer.

Creativity boosters!!!

February 28, 2011

When it comes to creativity, even the most creative person needs a little boost once in a while.  Many people have offered suggestions, and some of these involve the use of illegal narcotics and alcohol.  These substances may give you a sense of creative power; however it is a false feeling.  Drugs and alcohol don’t make people creative; they just lower your brain’s control.

If you want a true boost to your creativity, and not run a risk of physical danger to you, or your brain, I have two methods that have never failed to deliver. These methods are music, and exercise.

With music, I can have something to listen to without having something visual to take my attention away from what I should be doing, which is writing, in my case.  When you have something to watch the temptation is too great to just sit there and watch whatever is on.  When you stick to just music, you can focus your eyes on what you’re doing, and maybe give you a rhythm to help you accomplish what you want.

The physical benefits of exercise have been drilled into us since we were children, even though some people haven’t heard that message; but how does it fit into boosting creativity?  The human brain needs a constant flow of blood to keep it functioning.  With exercise, endorphins are released and blood pumps more freely; bringing more fuel to the brain, bringing with it a greater capacity for focus, thought, and of course, creativity.

In the case of writing, exercise has two benefits.  It boosts my creativity, and since writing is done sitting at your desk, with very little moving around, I get the advantage of keeping my weight under control.

I’m not saying that this is a 100 percent guaranty for everyone, or that it will begin the moment you start exercising.  I didn’t see any results for the first week of my exercise program, but with regular exercise (6 days a week since November) I noticed a massive improvement.

To put this in the simplest way possible, if you want the best, natural, boost to your creativity, turn on some music for focus, and rhythm; start a good exercise program, and practice your creative potential constantly.  If you do this the only thing you will over dose on is a healthy body, and mind.

Enjoy

Allen

The benefits of meditation

January 4, 2009

Meditation, in most cases, brings thoughts of Tibetan monks, or people sitting cross legged with palms up and two fingers touching.  While most people know the image, they don’t always get what it’s all about.  I used to be told that it was to empty the mind so you can start fresh, but most of us know that you can’t empty the mind, so I passed meditation off as something Buddhists do, and it wasn’t for me.  As I got older my views of the world  evolved to show me that how I saw the world was based on where someone else told me to look.  I now see meditation as mentally beneficial to me in several ways.
Of course, with ADD the benefits can be astounding, (ADD is not a problem if you control it, and meditation can give you that control.) as well as with me being a writer.  In reality, meditation calms the mind, it doesn’t empty it.  With my problem, it’s easy to become distracted, and I can’t focus on one subject for too long.  What psychologists usually do for ADD is treat it with pills.  Pills may quiet the mind a little, but they take away some of the benefits of ADD, like the creativity.  With meditation, you can do the same thing, but you keep the benefit of creativity.
Another great benefit of meditation is focus.  With the calming of the mind, you don’t let in as many distractions and you can focus your attention to where you need it. A good example is the writing of my blogs.  I have always written when I found the occasional few minutes, and as a result, my blogs were unfocused, and rushed.  With a little meditation before writing, my blogs are becoming more focused.  They may not be where I want them to be, but they’re a lot better than what they were.
The final benefit I will mention in this blog has to do with the learning ability.  The calming effect of meditation will open your mind to new ideas about what you’re learning.  It allows you to explore every aspect of a subject without being distracted to the point of giving up on learning more,  which leads to a better understanding of what you’re studying.
There are too many benefits of meditation to cover in one blog, but for someone like me, these three reasons are the most important.  If you are a writer, try meditating before writing and see where it takes you, you might be surprised.

Enjoy
Allen