GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE

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LEARNING TO LOVE PEOPLE


Objective:

Try to learn how you can make yourself care more about your customers by empathizing with them and showing brotherly love toward them.
Before we begin this unusual lesson, the word, love, needs to be defined. Our English language has only one word to describe this emotional condition. The Greek language classifies this word into three different emotional states. By examining the Greek definitions it will be much easier to understand what is meant by loving the people with whom you do business.
The three words which mean love in the Greek language are, agape, phile˘, and, eros. The first example, agape, is an unending love like the love a mother would have for her children. It is a Godly kind of love which is probably the strongest kind of love known. But we cannot love our customers with agape love. That would be impossible.

The last example, eros, is a physical attraction. We get our English word, erotic, from it. It is the kind of love that a husband and wife share together. This is not the kind of love that we should have for our customers. It may sometimes be tempting, but it doesn't help our business success much.

The only remaining example, phileo, is the kind of love we should demonstrate when dealing with our customers. In the United States, we have named a city after this kind of love. Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, gets its name from this word. This kind of love is the kind we need to develop with our customers. This kind of love is a love comprised of respect. It brings about a benevolent attitude toward others. (Benevolent means kindness) If you can learn to love your customers in this manner you will find that they will return the favor by, not only purchasing more of your products and services, but, by telling others about the fine treatment they have received from you.

If you can learn to love people - all people - you will have accomplished a magnificent task that most people seem to ignore and, as a result, miss some of the greatest pleasures in life. There really is a great amount of pleasure to be gained by giving to others. And, that's what you do by showing love to someone.

For instance, here is a copy of a poem I wrote many years ago relating to love.

MORE THOUGHTS ON LOVE
Kent E. Gunnison
January 5, 1991
Love is sitting when you'd rather walk.
  Love is listening when you'd rather talk.
Love is working when you'd rather sleep.
  Love is giving when you'd rather keep.

Love is hiding when you'd rather seek.
  Love is silence when you'd rather speak.
Love is frowning when you'd rather grin.
  Love is losing when you'd rather win.

Love is catching when you'd rather throw.
  Love is staying when you'd rather go.
Love is smiling when you'd rather cry.
  Love is living when you'd rather die.

Love is when you do what you must
  In order to keep another's trust.
It's reaching deep in-side one's self
  For something precious, on a shelf
That you've been holding in your soul,
  But love consents to let it go.

Love is seen within the eye.
  Love is heard within a cry.
Love is felt through finger-tips.
  Love is spoken through careful lips.

Love's description is out of reach.
  Love's emotion: We cannot teach.
And those who find it ask not, "Why?"
  But simply know, 'twill never die.

In order to provide good customer service you must release the part of yourself that most folks wish to preserve. You must care for the other person's well-being at least as much as you care for your own. There are customers who are not easy to love. Because of their attitude and the way they treat associates when they enter a business, they really don't deserve to be loved. But the true test of real love is to forgive under all circumstances.

If you are thinking to yourself, "I'm not going to do that for anyone!" you are missing one of the most important lessons in life. Consider what you lose by forgiving someone for having a very bad attitude. What do you lose? I really can't think of a single thing. But I can think of many things to be gained by showing kindness and forgiveness to a person who is undeserving of it. For starters, you place them at a disadvantage emotionally. These kind of people seem to get their kicks out of watching others squirm as a result of their rude treatment. When you don't squirm, they don't get their kicks. That's actually a very rewarding feeling.

There is an illustration I gave to my students concerning the act of getting even with someone. In most cases, when someone does something to make us feel bad, it is because we have emotionally challenged them in some way. Their weakness at this point makes them feel like a lesser person than we are. People who lack self-esteem often fall into this category. These poor folks go through life feeling like they have to prove to themselves that they are just as good as the rest of us folks. In reality, we haven't noticed that they aren't just as good, but, they don't feel that way about themselves. Therefore, when they are challenged by something we say or do, their reaction is an attempt to make us feel the way they feel.

They are making an effort to bring us down to their level of behavior. And, guess what most of us do at this point! You are correct if your thinking, "Most of us get even by reacting to their behavior with something just as foolish." That's what our gut reaction is in most cases. Without thinking much about it, we join into a see-saw battle of wits which keeps cutting the other down, and down, until someone decides it's not worth the effort.

Remember how the see-saw battle began? The person with the lowest opinion of himself suckered the other person into their narrow little world of self-pity. The point here is this: In order to get even with another person, you must lower yourself to the level of that person's thought process. That's what getting even is all about. Getting even never raises your standing with others - it only brings you down to their level. Once you thoroughly understand this principle, and begin to live by it, you will never again allow yourself to be so foolishly disgraced by falling below your standards.

By applying this principle along-side the ability to love your customers you never go home from a day of work frustrated because of some unhappy encounter with a customer.

It's especially great fun to apply the bag lady principle. What is the bag lady principle? I use the term here for lack of a more descriptive illustration. To understand it and apply it you must, first, understand how most little girls feel while growing up from childhood. Partly because of our society and partly because girls will be girls, it is the goal of almost all little girls to grow up looking pretty. As they grow from a child into their teen years and beyond, some girls retain their cover-girl figures while others seem to gain weight and lose that doll-like appearance they once possessed. As these young ladies grow into older women they are forced to live through hundreds and even thousands of moments of embarrassment because of their looks. They have had to listen to people making comments that should never have been made about their appearance. By the time they reach middle-age they have, in many cases, given up on trying to look like a cover girl. They may not be pushing a shopping cart full of their belongings but inside they feel about as unimportant to the rest of the world as a bag lady must feel.

You can probably think of instances where you have waited on customers who fit this description. In most cases, these folks have learned not to expect any special treatment from the world around them. That's when you have a perfect opportunity to exercise your love for people. You can have a great time and feel good about yourself by doing what you can to cheer up someone who is feeling pretty low. It's great fun to watch their faces as they are surprised to find that someone really does care how they feel - that someone thinks they are just as important as the lovely cover-girl type of person.

The bag lady principle doesn't only apply to women. There are plenty of men who feel just the same about themselves - not necessarily because they are over-weight, but for other reasons. If you look close you can see it in their eyes. And, with women, it isn't only their looks that can make them feel low. There are many other things which come into a person's life that can pretty much destroy their self-esteem. If you will take a little time - show a little concern - and give out a little love, you can be guaranteed that these people will be coming back for more love as well as your products and services.

But, what about the employee who feels like they can't be out-going and friendly because they lack what we call social skills. Are you reading this and thinking, "I'm just not the kind of person that likes to talk much to my customers." I can understand that feeling. As I was growing up through grade school and junior high school I had a very poor opinion of myself. I was an introvert. I was afraid to talk to people. When I reached high school and the hormones in my body started telling me that girls were good, I realized that my shyness was not going to help much toward making relationships.

I was so shy that I would eat my lunch in the cafeteria. When I finished lunch I would walk out the cafeteria door, turn left, walk a few feet, and spend the rest of the lunch hour standing in front of a heat register. I wanted to be friendly but my shyness stopped me in my tracks. I understood that all it would take to begin a relationship was simply to look others in the eye and say, "Hi!" The other person would respond and a relationship could begin. But, I was so extremely shy that I thought that, if I started saying, "Hi!" all the others would be saying, "What happened to Kent? He used to be shy and now he has changed." And I was too shy to handle that kind of notoriety.

I was such an introvert that I didn't want them to notice any change in my behavior. And I continued standing outside the cafeteria door each lunch hour until one day when my folks moved and I transferred to a different school. My little mind began to plan how I could act when I transferred. After all, no one at the other school would know I was shy. Therefore, if I spoke up and said, "Hi!" nobody would notice a change because nobody would know how shy I used to be.

The plan worked. As I walked the halls of my new school I spoke to everyone with whom I made eye contact. Within one year I was vice-president of one of the largest student clubs in the school. And, I always had plenty of dates on Saturday night.

So, if you think you are inhibited somewhat and cannot bring yourself to carry on friendly conversations with your customers, I urge you to relax and enjoy life. If you speak to them, they'll speak back and appreciate your friendlyness. You'll make them feel more at ease, and, you will also feel a lot better.

Remember this: People like to have fun. If you can make their transaction with your company feel like a fun experience they will never want to do business elsewhere. Good customer service is based upon making the business transaction a very enjoyable experience for your customers. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by learning to love your customers.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT FOR NEXT 24 HOURS

Over the next 24 hours modify your mental thought processes to a posture of caring for and assisting your customers as well as other people with whom you come into contact. As you work or visit with each person mentally consider the personal difficulties they may have had over the past week or month. Think about how they may have been the victim of bad treatment by someone else. Imagine yourself able to look into their past and see the troubles they may have encountered. Then, while you are in contact with them, say and do whatever is appropriate to be as kind and gentle as possible in your business environment as well as with family and friends.

Most people do have what may be called a sixth sense. Your customers will be able to feel the empathy you possess for their well being. They will sense that you are a different kind of person than those who have helped them in the past. It will work for you.

Keep your note pad and pencil handy so that you can jot down the conditions that are produced as a result of your efforts to love your customers.