Customer Service and the Bottom Line

Posted on January 12, 2013

Companies and organizations often spend inordinate amounts of time and energy focusing on how to increase sales and profits and rightly so. But, there is one area in particular, right under their analytical noses that escapes notice - the link between their front line people and profits. Here are some real life, personally experienced examples.

The great

  • Staff who remember your name (and they're not looking at a screen)
  • The new cafe owner who gives you free coffee to try
  • The employee who notices the small things and takes it upon themselves to improve your condition
  • The retail assistant that says "so what brings you into the store today?" Brilliant question, interested in directing me and I can't answer no
  • The taxi driver, mindful of your time and money takes you the quickest route.
  • The company, hotel or store you visit that always makes you feel you're the most important person while there, not just a number (or dollar)

The Bad

  • The restaurant where you always have to ask for service
  • No initiative by the team member
  • The retail assistant that says "are you happy browsing?" always says to me "please don't bother me, just browse away."
  • The tradesman who grunts and leaves a mess
  • Non smiling and disinterested receptionists
  • Sales people who are more interested in getting the sale than in my needs
  • One star service in five star establishments

The ugly

  • Telephony support who upon my complaint say "I understand." How can they? They're not me!
  • Cabbies who take me the long way
  • Invoices that end up double what I expected because things weren't explained properly at the start.
  • The bank that provides one teller for lunchtime queues. (I 'd be out of business within a month if I treated customers this way).
  • Frontline staff interested in themselves, on personal calls while I am waiting, exhale heavily, lethargic in their service etc etc

A few things to keep in mind for your business

  • Does the receptionist answer the phone with energy? Remember, people hear smiles. (I once put a mirror in front of a receptionist to remind her of this fact).
  • Frontline People. Any one, dealing with customers needs to be trained and monitored in how they engage with your clients. From tradesman to retail, from support to sales. Some staff do this naturally, others have to have vigorous training, others allocated to back office roles.
  • Hire behaviorally for the role. If you are recruiting someone for a 'people role', much better to get it right up front than try to train someone in it afterwards.
  • Teach your team that the customer is the most important person in your business. Go out of your way to 'wow' them. (I am the only consultant I know of to offer 24/7 support and most often return calls within 2 hours - some say it's stupid, I say its normal.

As in all things, what you value, shapes your actions. And, if your company puts me first and communicates I am important, I will more than happily be a long term paying customer I will refer my friends and be your evangelist. It will mean less cost cutting, more sales and profit for you!

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