Winning with Leslie Groene May 2012
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Service and Attitudes!!!
I embellished this article from the April newsletter to drill down on this concept and further illustrate how your attitude can effect clients' actions!

It is interesting to look at the world around me through the eyes of a sales coach, business development trainer and motivational speaker. . .always evaluating the service of a company's personnel or their sales person. I seem to see and ultimately measure my experiences by 'Do they treat all of their customers like that?'; 'Why did they say that?'; 'Do they have any clue what conclusion I come to when I hear that?'

I had a couple of interesting things happen while on a recent business decide how you would judge the companies...

Boarded a one hour flight at 9:30am out of the Los Angeles area and requested coffee and the flight attendant told me that there was no longer coffee on short flights after 9:30am . . . "oh really I said" . . . he said that that was the new policy of the airline (he did not offer me any other explanation except I could have diet coke.)

Upon my return home from said business trip, I realized that I had left a small(high end brand) travel case behind at the hotel. I called and was transferred to the security department and they said in fact they did have the case and would send it to me. I received it via registered mail a few days later with all of the contents intact.

With regard to the first story, I was disappointed that I could no longer get coffee but was more displeased with his 'dismissive, snotty' attitude and demeanor. The second story was worthy of a letter to the manager of the hotel to express to him a 'thank you' to his staff for not only turning in the case but sending it me so promptly.

There will always be revenue attrition within in any given company in various industries - sometimes through no fault of our own but sometimes it is directly linked to our customer service. Do you know what your attrition percentage is and why you have attrition within your existing customer base?

Here are some statistics about clients and what drives them away...make sure you are aware of how your service and attitude affects your clients!
  • It takes 6-10 times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an old one.
  • 96% of unhappy customers do not complain, they just stop doing business with you.
  • 91% of those who don't complain will share the negative story with at least 9 other people, 13% will tell more than 20 other people about their experience.
  • The average unhappy customer will remember the incident for 23 years.
  • The happy customer will talk about the pleasant experience for 18 months.
  • For every complaint heard, the average company has 25 other customers with the same problem.
One way to minimize declining revenue is to call the client and see how they experienced your team and service level. Ask them if you met their expectations and how what you could improve upon the buyer/seller relationship. I have suggested to my clients that as the owners of the companies they should personally check in with their top 50 customers regularly to keep the relationships strong and make sure that they are providing the best possible service. This personal touch also gives you the opportunity to learn what market changes are occurring within your clients' industries.

"Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction - that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation."

A few basic rules about customer service:

Honesty is the Best Policy. Integrity - Be honest and own up to your mistakes. Communicate what you plan to do to change or prevent the same mistake from happening again. Don't be fooled into believing that a regular 'mea culpa' will get you off the hook. At some point the plan to fix the problem must take effect!

Break Glass in Case of Fire. Response Time - The best tact is to quickly get on the phone with the customer to explain your company's mistake. Don't rely on email for this communication if it can be done quickly one on one. If you are communicating to a large customer base then email is certainly the fastest and most effective way to quickly notify your customers that you are aware of the problem. Frequent updates is there is a protracted issue and a brief overview of how you will prevent it from happening in the future will give your customers confidence that you are aware of the customer impact.

Keeping it Real. Set a Realistic Expectation - Customers who have been promised something that isn't delivered as promised are far more frustrated and disappointed than if they are notified at the outset they won't have it sooner than later. In other words, under promise and over deliver is the best policy. This may take some arm wrestling with other departments who want to take a feature or product to market before it is ready. Set the expectations correctly internally as to what the fallout may be so everyone understands the impact to customer satisfaction and ultimately customer retention.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Everyone in your company should love your customers. Without them, you have no company. This doesn't mean you won't have difficult customers who will push the limits and try everyone's patience. But if you don't have a company philosophy to respect and appreciate your customers, the opposite tone will infect customer interactions from all departments. All departments, customer facing or not, should care about customer satisfaction.

Here are some basic reminders to reinforce ways to retain your customers so you can increase your business' revenue instead of remaining with flat or declining revenue.

1. Know your product - Know what products/service you are offering back to front. In other words be an information expert. It is okay to say "I don't know," but it should always be followed up by "but let me find out" or possibly "but my friend knows!" Whatever the situation may be, make sure that you don't leave your customer with an unanswered question.

2. Body Language/Communication - Most of the communication that we relay to others is done through body language. If we have a negative body language when we interact with others it can show our lack of care. Two of the most important parts of positive body language are smiling and eye contact. Make sure to look your customers in the eye. It shows that we are listening to them, not at them. And then of course smiling is just more inviting than someone who has a blank look on their face.

3. Anticipate Customers Needs - Nothing surprises your customer more than an employee going the extra mile to help them. Always look for ways to serve your customer more than they expect. In doing so it helps them to know that you care and it will leave them with the "Feel Good Factor" that we are searching for.

Warren Buffett said it best: "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently."

It is crucial to stay focused on your client's satisfaction level and remember that our main focus needs to be retaining and attracting new customers.

Focus Point
12. Be a good sport and treat others fairly in competitive bidding situations, etc.
A wise man once said, "You only have one chance to make a good first impression." As you will quickly discover, your given industry really is a small world - so act accordingly. Be fair with others, even competitors for a sale, and treat them the way you would want to be treated. After all, by next year, you might want to work with the competition, or the competition might be working with your firm. If you need more convincing on this point, I can remind you that it is not only the right thing to do, it is good business!

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