GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE

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©mrkent.com, 2008 -

IT'S THEIR HARD-EARNED MONEY


Before beginning your first lesson please let us offer a word of encouragement. Don't Quit!

These exercises have been developed for those who are working with people. If you are unemployed you can still apply the same principles on the people with whom you meet everyday. Be imaginative, don't become discouraged.

You are about to begin learning some life principles that could very well change your future. Have fun and good luck.

Objective:

Try to understand that the money a customer spends at your business was earned by hard work. They have committed several hours of their life earning that money - hours that cannot be reclaimed. When they hand over that money they expect a fair and respectable exchange in return.
Do you remember your first job? I remember mine. I earned $1.50 per hour. That may not sound like much now, but back in 1961 it could buy a lot more than it does today. One of the things I recall is looking at my watch as that first day passed. I was mentally calculating how much I had earned as the hours slowly passed. At the end of the first eight-hour day I had earned twelve dollars. The second day was almost like the first, but as the calculation became more difficult and I knew I was getting richer and richer, I stopped trying to keep track - until payday.
I remember my first payday! I had worked 40 hours at $1.50 per hour and it was almost time to get that first paycheck amounting to $60.00. But, when I received the check it didn't amount to $60.00. It wasn't even $50.00. The government had taken part of my check away from me and I didn't get my $60.00. That was a hard lesson to learn. I had worked hard and was dreaming of something better. But, there I was, holding that check in my hand, learning one of life's hard lessons. Life is full of many hard lessons and all of us must learn that we never seem to have all the money we need to fulfill our dreams. There is a lesson we need to learn as good customer service representatives. That is: Most people work hard for the money they spend.

There are very few people who don't have to work hard for the money they spend. Of course, it is easy to point out the ones we know of - those who don't have to work hard for their money. We have seen them on television etc. The reason we hear about these people is because their situation is so unusual, making it newsworthy. The average working man and woman only dream of having it easy. That's as close as they ever come to having money without working hard.

What about the rich doctors and lawyers? Follow them around if you ever get the opportunity. But, don't start where they are. Backtrack to where they have come from as they worked their way through college and graduate school. Appreciate how hard they had to study, and the money it cost for their education. Keep in mind that the doctor you see occasionally is probably spending much of his profit repaying student loans.

To practice good customer service always view the money spent by each customer as if it were not easily earned. That's an important concept to grasp. I have worked in retail and seen people who I suspect are very wealthy. I also see folks who are barely making it between paydays. From a natural standpoint, it is much easier to empathize with those who appear to be poor than it is to empathize with the wealthy. But, in order to provide the best customer service I must put my natural feelings aside and concentrate on the knowledge I possess. I must treat each customer as if the dollar they spend today was a dollar they worked hard to earn yesterday.

If you are not familiar with the word empathize, it means to mentally and emotionally try to place yourself into another person's situation. To empathize is to imagine what it would be like to trade places with another person.

You may not be familiar with the process of empathizing with others. Don't feel bad - our society is becoming sadly desperate for people who know how to do this. Road rage is much more common than empathizing. In fact, empathizing is just about the opposite of road rage. If you want to practice empathizing just look around while you drive to and from work. When you see another driver whom you would normally try to crowd out of your lane, think! Back off and give him or her passage while you fall in behind. This would be a mechanical, non-emotional start to empathizing but you will probably be amused at the results. You are certain to receive a different variety of gestures from the other drivers than what you have been receiving.

An emotional approach to empathizing is remembering that the other person probably has as many problems in life as you, if not more. Family problems, job worries, broken relationships, or many other of life's difficulties may be facing that other person. If you can relate your own feelings to how that other person may be feeling you are beginning to learn to empathize. We all have to learn to empathize. It is not a natural response.

The tourist industry, in a sense, is exempt from practicing good customer service. You may have been a victim of poor treatment at some time when you were vacationing. You may have been purchasing a souvenir or food, or, just patronizing a business located near a tourist attraction. Because most of their customers never return for a second visit, these businesses know there is no need to make you feel welcome. Try to recall how that made you feel. You were most likely sorry that you had spent your money at their establishment. In the back of your mind you wished there were something you could do to help you feel better about the whole situation.

That is how your customers are thinking as they leave after having been treated poorly. The difference is this: They are not at a tourist attraction and they can, and will, shop somewhere else next time. And, you will no longer be the recipient of another penny of their hard-earned money.

People are known to return to businesses where they know they will be treated well. They will drive several extra miles to patronize a business that treats them better than a business located closer to their home. They are even willing to purchase the same product at a higher price from a business where they feel they are treated well.

Always remember this fact: The money your company receives from each customer was earned while they were working somewhere away from their home and family. It was earned while they relinquished a part of their life-time. That time they spent earning that money is time lost from their lives. Hence, the money you receive from them is a part of them - a part of their life. By remembering that fact and respecting it, your customer service can only improve.

YOUR ASSIGNMENT FOR NEXT 24 HOURS

Before returning to begin the next lesson, spend the next day thinking like a customer. Write yourself a note (post-it note would be good) and place it wherever you work. The note should read, "THINK LIKE MY CUSTOMERS THINK!" With each new customer that arrives at your workstation, look at that note, then, look at your customer. Try to visualize that customer working hard somewhere earning the money they will be handing over to your business in exchange for your services or products.

Do all you can to make sure that when that customer leaves your business he or she will have a very positive, memorable impression of how well they were treated. This can only happen if you are sincere about this assignment. You must possess an attitude that comes across to each customer as if you were saying, "I am so glad that I have had the opportunity to help you today." If, when your customers walk away or, if you do business by telephone, as they hang up, they feel as if they have made your day, you will have found one of the secrets to good customer service. Because, if they feel like they have made your day, it will be as a result of your good customer service.

After each transaction, grab a pen or pencil and place a small plus-sign (+) on your post-it note. Oops! did you forget to look at the note and did you forget to think like your customer thinks? If so, place a small minus-sign (-) on your post-it note. The objective is to have a post-it note filled with plus-signs. Keep the note and bring it back here tomorrow.

If you are not yet employed simply apply the above lesson to those with whom you come into contact. Treat them in the same manner you would treat a customer at your business. You will find that the same kind of treatment that works on customers also works on your acquaintances. You will begin drawing people to yourself by doing these things.