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With this post, I’ll bring to a close my four-part series on customer service.  Here is the fourth and final theme that we have to understand and master in our customer service process.

Theme 4: Customers Talk

Everyone is your customer.  I remember the story I once heard about a salesman, but let’s be honest, the story could be about you or me.  The salesman had secured a meeting with a prospect that represented huge potential sales for his company.  He flew into the city the afternoon before the meeting and with some time to kill, decided to buy his wife some perfume as a gift.  He went into a department store and was helped by a young girl who was in her first day on the job.  The girl’s lack of experience showed and she had difficulty helping the salesman complete his purchase.  Frustrated with the difficulty she was having, the salesman lashed out at the young lady reducing her to tears.  He angrily walked out of the store without completing his purchase.  The next day the meeting with the CEO went very well.  The parties agreed to a follow up meeting to execute a contract between the companies.  The CEO told the salesman that he was meeting his daughter for dinner that evening to celebrate her 18th birthday.  You know where this is going don’t you?  When the salesman arrived at the restaurant, the CEO was seated with his daughter at the reserved table.  Lo and behold, the CEO’s daughter was the same young lady the salesman had mistreated so badly in the department store the previous day.  Needless to say, the rest of the story does not go well for the salesman.  The young girl stormed out of the restaurant and after a quick dinner the two men retired for the evening.  Back in the office the next day, the salesman received a call from the CEO.  His message was simply that the meeting was canceled and the two companies would not be doing business together after all. 

This should go without saying, but we can all fall into the trap of taking our frustrations out on other people.  This can happen when we’ve just had a contentious exchange with someone or maybe just the proverbial “bad day.”  However, taking it out on the next person you meet, whether or not that is a customer, is inadvisable to say the least.  Everyone is somebody’s special somebody.  You would be wise not to forget this.

Customers will share how you treat them with others.  In this era of Facebook and Twitter, people share their experiences with one another (and all their friends and followers) in real time.  One short “tweet” can be valuable advertising that money can’t buy or do irreparable damage to your company’s reputation.  The 18 year old girl in the earlier story probably owns a smart phone of some sort.  Like most 18 year old girls, she likely tweets multiple times per day to tell her friends every little detail about her daily experiences and interactions.  I’ll bet that she told every one of her friends about the jerk her disrespected her in front of her coworkers.  If the salesman is lucky, the young girl might have saved his job by not mentioning the company for whom he worked. customer service remember customers talk

A cottage industry is developing to help company’s monitor the unsolicited publicity they are getting in all the forms of social media.  That’s all fine and good, but is it really necessary if we just consistently practice the Golden Rule – treat others as you would like to be treated.  I’m not so naive to think that acting in this manner assures you of never having dissatisfied customers; but dissatisfaction from a product or service that underwhelms a customer is far different than dissatisfaction that comes from feeling that you’ve been disrespected.

It takes twelve positive impressions to overcome a single negative impression.  Wow!  That is sobering.  Remember this little statistic and even post it in plain view of  you and your coworkers as a reminder of the importance of building and maintaining strong relationships with your customers. 

To steal from a famous marketing tag line, “Just Do It!”

 Six Step Model for Handling Upset Customers

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