Posts Tagged ‘right’

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.

Whacky Wednesday: 2 rules to a peaceful marriage.

February 18, 2015

As someone who has been married for over 20 years, I have been through the best and WORST of times.

On my wedding day my dad told me what he felt were the two rules to a peaceful marriage, and I have them written down above my desk.

Rule 1: The woman is always right

Rule 2: If the woman is ever wrong, see rule 1.

It has been the greatest source of laughter for me in over 20 years.  On those “rare” occasions when my wife really annoys me, I just take one look at that, start laughing, and I’m no longer upset.

A Life Changing Pattern!!!

July 9, 2012

With the circumstances of my quitting smoking, I started noticing a very interesting pattern.  For those of you who don’t know how I just quit, I can tell you, it was not easy.  I was trying hard for years, and I tried a couple of methods with no success.  I heard of others who tried patches, gums, and other expensive methods, and then ended up smoking more.  On January 1st, at 1:35 in the morning, I was outside having a smoke and once I put it out said “I’m done.”  Since then, I haven’t touched one, or even had the desire for one.

Now, here’s another story that happened to a YouTuber by the name of Shay Carl Butler.  His story doesn’t involve smoking; it does involve weight loss.  From the moment he started his Shaytard channel he had mentioned how much he wanted to lose weight, and he tried several attempts without success.  Then, last year, Shay and some of his friends got together for a weight loss challenge.  His attempt, this time, involved vegetables and exercise and he didn’t stop.  He started at 260, and his current weight is 170.  Not only did he lose all that weight, but he also ran in a couple of marathons, and he continues training.

What do both of these stories have in common?  One, they are both major life changes, and two; it took several attempts before we achieved success.  I once heard someone say that major life changes only happen after a cataclysmic event, or a low point in life; but neither was the case with either one.  The only other common factor in these stories is that they happened at the right time.

This is the pattern I was seeing; life changes will happen at a certain time, regardless of the method; but if this is the case, then why should we try so hard before this point?  The best reason is, we are not given a guide book to tell us when the right time hits.  If we don’t try to change, we may not be in a position to take that opportunity, when it comes.  If we do miss it, there will be other chances, but wouldn’t it be better if you catch it early?

Finding the right exercise routine!!!

March 7, 2011

As I mentioned in the last blog, exercise is one of the two best creativity boosters, so that makes it imperative that you get yourself into a routine as soon as possible.  Of course, if you already have an exercise routine, you’re all set; if not, you may wonder which one is right for you.  The simple answer is, there is not a simple answer.

Any exercise program, as long as you are exercising, is good.  There are thousands of exercise videos, and machines out there, as well as gyms, paths for jogging; no wonder it’s hard for someone just starting to find one.  If the multitude of choices leaves you pulling out your hair, and muttering endlessly, here are three questions that may help you make an informed decision.

“What is my price range?”  This question, especially with the current economic situation, is something you need to consider carefully.  Prices go anywhere from free (and depends on the weather) into the thousands.  A good program should help you lose fat, not your paycheck.  The exerciser I chose was only 200, in easy installments.  It was what I could afford at the time, and it’s done great ever since.  If you are still overwhelmed, there are still two questions to consider.

“How much space do I have?”  This will help to narrow the field quite a bit.  If you live in a mansion, with 20 rooms, you can fit a lot more equipment than someone in a small apartment.  Your only concern in this case is how much room you have to spare.  A bowflex, for example, would never fit in my apartment; well it’ll fit, but we would barely have the room to move around it.  You could always go for a fitness DVD (like “Walk Fit”, or “Sweatin to the Oldies”) or go for a small machine.  Both are usually easy to use, and cheap enough to fit in most peoples’ budgets.  There is still one more question that may just bring you to the right program.

“What area of my body needs the most work?”  This question is very important since it will narrow the decision considerably.  Many of the DVDs, jogging and walking focus on the lower part of the body, than any other part.  Bowflex, while it’s great for the legs, focuses more on the upper body.  The exerciser I have, (The Red max Fitness Professional) focuses more on the mid-section, even though it’s great on other parts of the body. 

When you answer all three of these questions, you can find the best exercise program to meet your specific needs, don’t be afraid to ask for help from a fitness store, They have always been helpful to me.  Don’t worry about getting the wrong one; if it works with the three answers you came up with, it’s the right one.

Enjoy,

Allen