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Providing excellent customer service keeps excellent customers

Tuesday, December 22, 2015 - 09:00
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A short time ago, I received a call from a telemarketer wishing to speak to the owner about a new product they were offering. I know telemarketers have a job to do and it’s a tough job that is met with disdain from 99 percent of their potential clientele.

That particular day, I had about enough of the telemarketers and the robot callers and explained that the owner had died while on a mission trip to the jungles of Burma fighting pestilence. The telemarketer then replied, “I’m sorry to hear that! Is there anyone else I can talk to about a lucrative new product we are offering?” 

After I hung up the phone in a Yosemite Sam fashion, I took a minute to say a silent prayer for the heartless hustler: “Lord, I know that telemarketers and green flies are necessary, but it seems to me green flies perform a much more important function, so, in Your divine wisdom, could you please turn all telemarketers into green flies. Amen.”

Getting the sale is important to anyone wishing to remain in business, but at what price? If you say “at all cost” the price is too much. I’m about to tell you why being a good service advisor or counterman will reap benefits that you never even thought possible.

In my business, I pride myself on providing excellent customer support, service and advice. I insist that everyone who works for me does the same. By doing so, our customers know what to expect and my employees know what’s expected of them. That being said, what happens when I’m not around to make sure the team is performing to standards I’ve set forth that customers have come to expect?

This just happened. I suddenly became very ill. Telemarketers didn’t care that I could neither work nor barely function.

To say that I micro-manage is an understatement, so on top of being sick, I was also suffering from anxiety and believe it or not, guilt. I was physically and mentally ill. Who in the heck feels guilty about missing work?  In a word, “me.” I felt such a responsibility to my employees, my wife and my customers that I was overcome with guilt regarding my inability to provide instant advice and support. I feared that anything less would result in a loss of revenue and potentially customers. I fully expected everything to stop or at the very least crawl as I recovered from my pestilence.

My employees stepped up, my customers understood the situation, and much to my chagrin, business continued. In light of this revelation, I understood the rationale of the telemarketer, even though I was insulted by the heartless retort, that business will indeed continue with or without me.

Since I have an alpha-omega complex and obsessive-compulsive disorder genetics, it’s hard for me to just let things happen. But happen they did, and my staff performed very well in spite of my concern. So, I began to dwell on things as I sometimes (always) do, and came to a few conclusions:

1. Long-time customers who have received outstanding personal service will readily recognize things that are askew and adjust accordingly.

2. Sometimes, customers are just fixated on dealing with the same person. It’s not a matter of confidence, it’s a matter of habit.

3. My employees in my absence will truly be able to run things very close to my liking. They might put their own flair on things, but the core will remain the same.

4. There is more than one way to skin a cat. Easy PETA, we don’t actually skin cats. Rather, a different approach in regards to problem solving. My way is not the best way; possibly, it’s just my way.

5. New customers will be just as happy as our old customers because more people than me possess the skill set required to do this job. Besides, I trained them all.

In my absence, during the same period in comparison to last year, they made more money without me. Being sick sucks. Owning an independent jobber store and service center amplifies things to vortex proportions of suckability. We feel uniquely alone but are not alone in our uniqueness. Providing top-notch customer service, support and advice is indeed a learned art of salesmanship. If that level of performance occurs during every sale or service transaction, your employees will learn a great deal by way of simple osmosis. They can’t help themselves but to learn something.

The cold truth that the telemarketer very coarsely pointed out, ever how insulting, is an actuality. Business goes on, and life continues whether you’re at work, on vacation, or hospitalized. If your employees are trained properly, don’t underestimate their ability. I’ve often told my folks, “Don’t worry too much about making a decision that I’d agree with 100 percent, moreover, it’s much more important to just make a decision.”

So due to my enlightened understanding of the sales cycle, paralleled with the cycle of life, green flies and telemarketers actually appear to have equal purpose, and my apologies to all telemarketers and green flies. I don’t know which I’ve insulted the most. I’m now sure in my absence, my employees have received enough training to deal with the likes of both of you.

I’m back to work now, thank goodness, and have a newfound respect for my employees. Not because they couldn’t do it without me, my respect stems from their ability to keep a tight lip during the times that I would not let them do it with me. The next time I need a break, I won’t wait until I get sick to get a few days off. You shouldn’t either if your employees have been well trained.

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