Running your own business? Think you're listening to and serving your customers? You may be surprised what these customers think about that.
Republished with author's permission by Stephen Clinton http://KingsOfCash.com
by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
We live in a society where the means of connecting with each other increase and proliferate every single day. And yet, we are communicating with each other less well than ever; in fact, it seems to me that as the means of communicating go up, the actual communicating we do goes down. And if this is one of the chief ironies of our times; it is also amongst the greatest, most irritating and always infuriating aspects, not least because it should never occur at all.
Irritation by phone.
Every Wednesday I have occasion to see how people who are not sufficiently client-centered handle their customers. The case in point is the team of Brazilian cleaners which comes every 7 days to help keep me sufficiently clean and tidy for another week so that I can do my important work for you, readers, with the complete focus required.
These cleaners have worked for me for some years now. I like them and (despite my exigent standards) they seem to like me.
Lately, however, the situation, once stable and acceptable, has declined. What's more I know why and (if they're paying attention) the cleaners and their fearless leader should know, too.
We have, in fact, arrived at the point where I say a thing, but they do not hear that thing, much less take action to do that thing. And so a "problem" that should never have existed... now needs the kind of action I am no longer sure these cleaners are able and willing to take. It goes like this...
"Hang that phone up."
The head cleaner, not to put too fine a point on the matter, has never met a phone she doesn't like. She's always pleasant, personable, a smile ever at the ready even when things in her life are not going as well as she might like... and (and this is the gravamen of my charge) she's a chatterbox who may well have been born with a phone in her ear, and this not only annoys me; it alarms me... for my particular lifestyle is unusual for our times...
Life in a museum.
Over the course of the last couple of decades or so I have focused on the acquisition of museum quality artifacts of every kind. Their care and protection is my objective... the better to give each of them the opportunity to be shown to utmost advantage. This means regular dusting and polishing. Here's where the problem begins.
I have made it clear to the cleaners on now innumerable occasions that the way they work for others may not constitute the best way they should work for me. In other words, their whirling dervish style of dust removal must be changed when the object being dusted has literally hung at Versailles. Slow and steady is the desired approach...
"Don't do it all at once."
Dusting and the like, let's face it, can be dull, excruciatingly dull indeed. I pride myself on an acute awareness of this fact. And so from the very beginning, with so many facets needing regular attention, I have advised the cleaners to do a portion of the artifacts one week; the balance the next... even extending full dusting over three visits; in other words caution and care are desirable, not necessarily the speed on which they pride their operation. That works for them; it most assuredly does not work for me. And, worse, as they rush through their tasks, I literally hold my breath while they swing their awkward and provocative vacuum cleaner in the very limited space at their disposal. To say I am nervous as they work is the ultimate under statement.
But no matter how often I advise them... that is the precise number of times they have not only failed to hear... but have made it perfectly clear that they regard this advice as superfluous, intrusive, completely beside the point...
The phone, the whole phone, and nothing but the phone.
The cleaners love to yap (a word my grandmother used to use for chatter that most assuredly did not rise to the level of more demanding and reciprocal conversation)... and they yap from the moment they arrive... to the moment they depart. They do it LOUDLY with each other (a situation that I usually ignore). More seriously, they do it on the phone while doing their cleaning... and this is a situation I most assuredly do NOT ignore. What's more, I cannot ignore it... because, in my case, that would be careless and irresponsible, such is the rarity and beauty of the items herein, a fact I am never sure they have taken in, much less understand and make clear they understand by carefully considered and carefully rendered action.
The situation rises to boiling point when they focus on the telephone and their jejune yapping... instead of devoting 100% of their attention to the breathtaking portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830) which arrests the attention of every connoisseur who sees it. For the cleaners, philistines, it is just another burdensome object to get through, get by, get over until they can go home -- safe from the old geezer who demands not only an earnest effort, but one that does not on any way threaten the object in question.
And so the chief cleaner says this to me with complete incomprehension: "I never break anything," her pout pronounced... her eyes smouldering. Thus, she indicates she has not heard my point, clearly doesn't understand it, and does not perceive the benefit of attending to her customer, the customer she needs for her business but cannot be bothered to comprehend, much less conciliate and reassure.
Beneficial advice. Treat it accordingly.
Now let us draw what benefits we can from this situation, for it is time to resolve it, placing our relations on the better footing they once were.
1) Listen to your customers. They are the sole reason why you have a business in the first place.
2) Do not see the customer as the enemy but rather a fellow traveler with you on this planet, who has a right to your ear as well as your labor.
3) Do not casually listen to, or even ignore, what this customer says. Not only is that bad business; it is also bad human relations.
4) When the customer addresses you, listen... and see what you can do, not to ignore the point, but to implement it, as quickly and easily as possible.'
5) Where the customer has concerns respond to them with alacrity and with empathy. Then see what you can do about implementing solutions to them.
6) Even where you do not entirely agree with the customer, do what you can to accommodate that customer.
7) Where you know that such and such a thing disturbs your customer, go the extra mile to avoid such disturbance.
And, above all, ask yourself this fundamental and crucial question: have I done everything this day to ameliorate the situation, hearing, doing, improving the relations and so earning the trust and even admiration of this all important person. For, remember, each contact you have with your customer provides yet another occasion to earn this trust and admiration, and if you do not take it, you are yourself your own worst enemy... and that is unacceptable indeed.
But let's end on the highest possible note of accommodation and joy, with "painfully fabulous" Siedah Garrett's 2012 Academy Award nominated song, "Real in Rio." Find it in any search engine... and samba. Just don't do it when you're polishing the silver.
About the Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today.
Republished with author's permission by Stephen Clinton http://KingsOfCash.com