If you’re in business, know this: people talk.
That’s the good news. Here’s the bad news: if people have a bad experience at your business, they’ll have a lot more to say to a lot more people.
How about a helpful tip for you: decide whether or not you care what customers have to say about your business and then structure your practices around giving people a desirable experience. Here's how...
I’m not a big believer in the “customer is always right” philosophy. I find that people generally look for value, honesty and something they can feel good about paying for. Nobody is always right all the time – least of all me. But I do believe that people in business to sell products and services have an obligation to their patrons to do the very best they can – with every single interaction, to demonstrate transparency and a commitment to excellence in customer service.
To me that means I’d like to see a little integrity. Do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it. Deliver. Things come up. Life happens. I get it. But show me that you are willing to do whatever it takes to make things right. Please don’t brush me off, leave me hanging or pretend like my expectations based on previous agreements are somehow an inconvenience to you personally. That’s just rude – and quite frankly, I don’t know how people like that stay in business very long. Like I said, people talk.
Seinfeld’s famed Soup Nazi got away with it because his fictitious recipes were simply worth the awful service. If you’ve got an operation that good, go for it. Be cranky and flippant; don’t worry, your customers aren’t there for your warm disposition.
But everyone else has a choice. There is no such thing as a VIP. Every single client deserves my full attention, my utmost respect, and every ounce of my professionalism and integrity.
When things shake out differently than expected, no worries. I understand. Sometimes, it’s difficult to predict what it’s going to take to exceed expectations right out of the gate. But when things change, communicate with me honestly in a way that makes me feel like you genuinely care about my business and my personal satisfaction.
Do what you can to make it right. Quite frankly, the competition is right across the street – and when they earn my business on the basis of meeting or exceeding my expectations, I’ll tell my friends how great they were – and how disappointed I was with your lack of service.
Customer service is not some cryptic concept. Care. That’s it. Show me that you care about me and that you’re willing and able to follow through with integrity. I’m sure you’re awesome at what you do, but until I feel good about working with you, I’m not about to sing your praises to my extensive network of people eager for your services. Customer service is a reciprocal relationship. Take care of me and I’ll take care of you. It’s paramount to generating thriving communities where businesses flourish and clients and customers feel less like patrons and more like friends and neighbors.
Now, I’m no expert. I’m just a guy. But I know what it feels like when I walk away from a business interaction feeling grateful for having had the experience. And I know what it feels like to be utterly disappointed and unexpectedly disrespected. I’m clear on reasonable expectations and I have compassion for people having a bad day. But get sloppy too often, and risk what people may already be saying about you. Turns out, apparently I’m not the only one taking my business to the other guy.