Customer Focus

By Tim Connor, Rodeo! Performance Group, Inc.

People like to talk, so you will always have your business talked about by somebody to somebody else. The important thing is to make sure that what’s talked about is good and not bad stuff!

How do you do that? By making each part of the customers’ contact with you a contact that wows them.

Turning Negatives Into Positives

There are multiple points in your business where your customers have contact with your organization. The easiest to see is on the front end, where we meet them, greet them, and hopefully make a sale to them. But what about when they call because they don’t understand something about the service or product they’ve bought? Or when they have a problem with the bill? Or when it’s time to upgrade? Or even – good grief! – when they’re unhappy about part of your service? Believe it or not, these are your very best opportunities for developing good word of mouth advertising.

Now, why would I say that? Obviously, we spend most of our money and do most of our training on doing a good job at the front end – the sales end. It’s easy to see results here, either you make the sale or you don’t. But “buying something from us” does not make people appreciate us as a company, dealing well with a problem does! There will always be problems involved with some part of our relationship with the customer, and our thoroughness in planning for the interactions that occur at these times will make the difference between bad or good word of mouth advertising.

Fed Ex Sets the Example

Federal Express is one company which has taken this to heart, and issues that arise during shipping (and there aren’t many!) are dealt with quickly and thoroughly by the staff member taking the call. One such interaction had the staffer listening to an irate customer with a lost package who was “fed up” with the lack of response she was getting from the local employees. During her call to national headquarters in Memphis, the staff member heard her out, restated the problem back to her to be sure of understanding, get on that customer’s side by committing to find an answer to it, and gave the customer the option of staying on the line or waiting for a call back with resolution of the issue.

The problem was resolved and the package found.

The Customer’s Perspective

Now put yourself in the customers place: if someone had taken the time to obviously listen well, and then worked hard to fix a problem you had, what would be your feelings toward them? Wouldn’t you mention the whole situation to people you knew? Wouldn’t it be in the front of your mind whenever someone else talked about a problem they were having with a service or product? And think about what would be actually said: “Well, listen to this! I had sent a package with Fed Ex, and they lost it, but you should have seen how that woman in Memphis worked with me! She listened to me, took down all my information, followed up with me within 15 minutes – I’ll tell you, I was impressed.

Notice how customers in this situation will go through all the steps that were taken to help them resolve the issue? And that sort of story is very impressive to the third party who’s hearing it. Who do you think they’ll use when they have a package to send? They already have a good story of a problem dealt with well, and it has already put the company in a good light with them.

To Sum Up

So time taken to analyze the customer contact points in your business is time well spent. And getting the staff involved in coming up with the steps to be taken to resolve problems is worth the effort. You can start your own positive word of mouth marketing campaign, and lift morale and pride in your company while you’re doing it.