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The Power of One

Can you imagine the world we live in today without the contributions of Henry Ford? Without Martin Luther King, Jr., or Mother Teresa? Without Franklin D. Roosevelt, Claude Monet, Walt Disney or John Glenn? Without the genius of Albert Einstein? Each of these individuals showed how much one person matters.

The Power of One

Every individual can make a huge impact on providing exceptional—or unsatisfactory—service.

By Fran Carville, CRM

(Originally published in the July/August 2022 issue of Insights.)

Can you imagine the world we live in today without the contributions of Henry Ford? Without Martin Luther King, Jr., or Mother Teresa? Without Franklin D. Roosevelt, Claude Monet, Walt Disney or John Glenn? Without the genius of Albert Einstein? Each of these individuals showed how much one person matters.

What does the phrase “one matters” have to do with growing your business? You have probably heard the old saying that a business is only as good as its weakest link. It only takes one bad contact with a customer to hurt your business. It only takes one thoughtless remark to make a loyal customer shop elsewhere. It only takes one error to give a customer the impression that all of your work is mediocre. Think about it: If you have a bad customer service experience when shopping, whether in person or online, you don’t just blame the individual you worked with—you decide that the entire company is not customer friendly.

Like it or not, a few consumers in your marketplace probably feel that they have received less than exemplary service from your business. Maybe you were having a horrible day and hurried a customer through their order. Or maybe you have an employee that isn’t always tuned into your customers’ wants and needs. Every single person associated with your business has the power to make or break a customer’s relationship with your business. That’s why “one matters.”

One Matters

As business owners and managers, we all have the power to make a difference. We have the ultimate power to determine the level of service every consumer receives. First, we can’t just instruct our employees about great service; we have to walk the walk every day with every single person. Second, we are responsible for hiring customer-oriented employees, giving them the necessary training for success and for guiding them in every aspect of our business.

Many times we become complacent about service and customers, as we get caught up in all that we must do. Below you will find some of the most common ways we provide less than exceptional service, as well as suggestions as to how one person can ensure continued exceptional service.

1. Forgetting service basics. Every employee must understand what “great service” means. This includes being comfortable with different types of customers, having familiarity with all product lines and services offered, being able to offer product alternatives (especially in today’s marketplace), being creative to make each customer happy with their selections, having respect for every customer, listening to customers’ desires and having the confidence to handle issues that come up.

2. Taking customers for granted. With all of the options consumers have in 2022, can we afford to take even one customer for granted for even one minute? Mary Kay Ash once said, “Pretend that every single person has a sign around their neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’” It doesn’t matter how much you have going on, you only get one chance to make a great customer service impression.

3. Taking professionalism away. Sometimes in this strange, post-COVID world, we seem to have forgotten basic rules, such as: never chew gum in the showroom, never carry on a personal conversation while a customer is around, never have food or drink in view of customers, never overwhelm your customers with perfume or cologne, never have your focus on anything other than your customer. Plus, you have to dress appropriately for your demographics.

4. Thinking the telephone doesn’t count. Many consumers get their first impression of your business through the telephone. If your phones are answered by someone who sounds irritated or unhappy, what message does that send? If customers are put on hold over and over, what does this say about your service? If you don’t return calls promptly, does your customer think they are not important? With the hours people spend looking at their phones, they are obviously important, don’t you think?

5. Thinking mistakes are not your problem. It’s OK to wish that mistakes were not your problem, but in the real world, customers feel that mistakes are your problem. A mistake can cause you to lose a customer, or a mistake can make you into a customer service hero. Do you let customers leave your store less than 100% happy and allow them to tell others how awful you are? Or do customers leave your store thinking you have saved the day and tell everyone how great you are? Your choice!

6. Surprising your customers with bad news. Customers hate surprises, especially late in the process. That includes changing the price after an order is placed, telling the customer at pickup that you had to substitute another product or not having an order ready when you said it would be. Limiting surprises makes for happy customers.

7. Believing an outdated showroom is OK. Can you imagine going into Dillard’s and paying full price for clothing that was popular five years ago? Or going to a grocery store and seeing that everything is past its sell-by date? Why do we think nothing of trophies in our showroom with 2010 trims? Why do we not immediately remove display items that are discontinued? Why do we think customers will not mind if our showrooms are full of dust? Why would we think anyone is content to pay full price in a dirty, outdated showroom?

8. Believing that once you have a website it doesn’t need updating. Do you shop online at places that have outdated merchandise? Do you stay on websites where you can’t place an order? Do you go back to shop at a site that is confusing? Guess what—neither will your customers. They will just move on to a site that covers most of their needs.

9. Not staying in touch. Are you always happy to see your customers once a year? What about the other 11 months of the year? Is it “out of sight, out of mind?” A lot can happen in 11 months—maybe they find a new awards store. Keeping in touch with your current customers reminds them that you are there for them 12 months a year.

10. Giving 90% is OK. Do you think customers won’t notice that tiny scratch on one plaque? Do you think that giving them OK service will be alright, that they won’t remember? Do you think that if you just go through the motions, it will be good enough? Think again. Customers want perfection, and our job is to provide it every time.

One-on-one service begins with the first contact and never ends. Customer service is about being friendly and attentive, but it’s so much more. It is about the rightness of every order. It’s about taking care of every single consumer. It is about everyone in your business continually working to improve service levels.

You have the power to make a difference by giving all customers superior service. You have the power to ensure every customer gets the perfect award. You have the power to give a great shopping experience to every consumer. Why? Because one matters!

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