Common Courtesy…What?

It doesn’t matter how much a customer is spending. That customer could refer a huge job or 100 little jobs at a later date, or even grow to a big conglomerate and into a $1 million customer. We never know what the future holds, but I’ll tell you one thing, when someone in a company is rude to me, I do not want to do business with them again. Do you?

Telling a customer you don’t handle the small stuff, or telling them you’re not going to waste your time doing something if the customer isn’t buying is like taking an ice cold glass of water and throwing it in their face. Who wants to do business with someone who throws cold water all over them?

Can you tell I had an experience like that today?

Everyone understands production costs and how that sort of thing works, but there are ways to word something without causing the relationship to break.

1. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what the customer wants. Without that, no one will be satisfied.

2. If it is a new customer, pay close attention to him or her. If they have a bad experience they’ll tell up to 40 people about it, and only about 10-15 people about a good experience.

3. Don’t use terms like “small stuff” or “waste time” with any customer. You never know if that customer will turn into one of the most loyal customers you ever had. They surely won’t if you make them feel mistreated and unimportant: read that “small”.

4. Make sure you have a clear understanding of what the customer wants. (Did I repeat this?) If you satisfy that need, then you’ve got a sale and a repeat customer. If you don’t, then you’ve got a dissatisfied person who not only doesn’t want to do business with you, but you’ve also got a walking time bomb of potential negative advertising. A person with a negative message (bad experience) will repeat it 18 to 20 times. One with a good message (good experience) may repeat it three to five times. (1995 Chilton research survey). The key here is that a bad experience will be talked about because it is “news”. A good experience will come to mind when someone talks about a particular company or product.

5. Most business owners don’t need to reinvent the wheel about all this. We all have a tendency to forget people are important, not deadlines or piles of paperwork even though a job isn’t finished until the paper work is done.

Every business owner and executive has heard this before. Every employee should have heard it, but it seems that fewer are hearing it everyday. Every entrepreneur has had a bad experience and vowed not to repeat the mistake. It isn’t a new message. But, it is obvious that there are a lot of companies that must train their people in people skills because it isn’t just me confronting this issue more and more.

Customers should also realize this is a two-way street. I have heard customers bellow at clerks that did not cause a problem but were trying to help solve the problem. It can't be a nice day if customers do not realize it is unwise to bite the hand trying to help.

Courtesy was drilled in to us as children and it stayed with us into adulthood. Now I hear five-year-olds telling their mothers, “No,” with no reprisals. It is a very sad state we live in these days when customers accept rudeness as the norm, and employees don’t have the sense their Momma taught them at the age of five. Where did common courtesy go?

Courtesy must have gotten on the bus and forgotten about us. Wouldn’t it be nice to pin a gold ribbon on the employee that is the most courteous? So, we could relax while doing business? Or give out a Bonk Award to the most rude? Then maybe we could prepare to deal with the rudeness coming, and not be so surprised, or let it settle around the heart spoiling the day.

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  1. It is indeed true the little things are huge when it comes to customer service and retaining clientele.

    August 23, 2010

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