Great Customer Service is Putting Yourself in Their Shoes

The First thing we have to do is to define our goal.  What is customer service?  Once we can define it then we can pin point like a laser beam the direction and focus of your business.

After teaching hundreds of seminars, I have discovered that one of the best ways to discover this is by putting ourselves in our customers’ shoes.  If you were in their situation what would you want?

We are all customers.  We all shop.  We all go out to eat.  And we are all patients.   So, what do you want?

Let’s make two lists.  On the first list, I want you to list all the things that tick you off as a customer.  Things that irritate you.  Things that drive you away from one business into the arms of another.

The Things that Irritate Me as a Customer

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What things did you write down in this category.  You may have put down things such as rude attendants, having to wait a long time, and poor quality products and services.  Let me mention one of my pit peeves.  The Automated Phone System.  You know what I am talking about.  Those systems that say something like this, “If you want to talk to so and so then press 1, if you want to talk to so and so then press 2, ect…”  Then, once you finally push a button what does it do to you?  It sends you to another menu.

Finally, you reach a live person but what is your attitude like now? Your ticked, right?  Many times, the systems we have in place to make our lives easier actually create ticked off customers and thus create havoc and stress in our own lives.

My family owns a company in Anderson, Indiana called the Bright Corp.  What we do is sell papered products to the funeral industry. Hey, someone’s got to do it.  Actually, we are considered publishers for the funeral industry.  Our main product line includes Register Books, Acknowledgement Cards, Memorial Folders, and Prayer Cards.  I bring this up because if you were to call the Bright Corp. during business hours, you would get a live person.  Why?  Because my dad and my uncle are adamant about this.  And they should be. You see, when my grandfather bought this business back around 1947, the business was housed in a garage.  That is all the larger it was.  My family built it up from the ground floor.  Today, the company ships products all across United States and even a little beyond its borders.  It has been built up by the personal relationship with each customer.

Now, there are challenges of having a philosophy of answering the phone with a live person.  The main challenge is that you have to have someone man the phone all during business hours.  But, is it worth it?  You can count on it.  Many times, the things that irritate us as customers will irritate our own customers as well.  We have to make sure we aren’t putting up barriers between us and a relationship with our customers.

The Things I love as a Customer

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You can have my pants

Let me share with you something I loved as a customer.  A few years ago, I had a very strange experience on a speaking engagement in Indianapolis.   Since I was still living in Anderson, Indiana at the time, about 40 miles northeast of Indy, I decided I would grab one of my suits and drive down the night before and stay in the hotel where the seminar was going to be held the next day.

I was relaxing in my hotel room and something hit me—you better check your suit.  I got up and walked to the closet in my hotel room.  At first glance, the suit looked fine.  After more detailed scrutiny, I realized I didn’t have any pants.  What happened to my pants?  I knew I had pants when I left home.  Where could they be? I then realized what had happened.  I had carried my suit in a hanging bag from the cleaners.  The type that has no bottom to it. My pants had fallen off the hanger somewhere between my home and the hotel room.

What was I going to do without any pants?  Well, I decided I had better look in the hotel.  I went down to the parking garage and retraced my steps—no pants!  I then went to the front desk and asked if anyone had found any pants.  You can imagine the looks I got.

The hotel was a Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis so it also had shops in it.  I asked when the shops opened.  Big Problem! Too late the next day to be of help to me.  Then something amazing happened.  I guy behind the front desk heard what was going on. He said, “I have some pants in the back. You can wear my pants.” TALK ABOUT SERVICE!  I wore this guy’s pants all the next day.  They were a little big, but at least I had pants.

When is the last time you gave your pants to your customer?  Not lately, huh!   Well, too bad.  You see, look back at the story you just read.  Do you see something in it?  What was the name of the hotel I was staying at?  It is there, isn’t it?  I have no problem (in fact, I love to do it) boosting up the business of Hyatt Hotels.  The truth of the matter is that you don’t have a problem either.  Word of mouth advertising is the best kind of advertising and it starts with great service.

So, how do we encompass everything we love as customers and how do we keep from doing to our customers everything we hate as customers? It is real simple.  Put ourselves in their shoes and give them what we would want.  That is great customer service!

Posted in Customer Service.