Why follow up?

I recently made a purchase of an item on the internet; however, after pressing the purchase button, things did not go well.

Even though the verbiage on the site said I would get an email confirming the purchase, it didn’t happen for about 24 hours.  From there the wait began because I never heard another word.  I never got any indication that the item had shipped or where it was in the process or anything.  I wondered if my order had been lost in the ether of some computer-cloud world.

Why do I relay this story?  Have you ever been in this predicament?  Have you ever felt left out of the loop?  Not unusual if you’re a parent with your children but it shouldn’t be the case when you’re a customer.  I mean if anyone should be kept up to speed on the status of their order, repair, dry cleaning, or whatever, it should be the person shelling out their hard-earned dough.

Now, for those of you thinking, “geez, relax man, do you really get this bent out of shape because no one said your order for widgets had shipped?”  No, I really don’t get too bent out of shape about that but I do for more serious things like the results of a medical test or my kids tryout results or a repair on my truck.  Ultimately though, it doesn’t matter what it is, it matters that follow up communication is made.

Neuroscience says our brains get very stressed when we don’t know what’s coming around the corner.  Some have said that our brains are prediction addicts that have a distinct need to know what might happen.  This need to know what’s coming is a key element in keeping us safe and alive. So is it any wonder why we need follow up?  Is it any wonder that customers get really upset when no one calls or emails to say “here’s where things stand?”

Next time you close a sale or send off a package or fulfill an internet order, make sure to keep lines of communication open and send that update.  It makes customers feel safe and it soothes the savage survival beast as well as putting you and your business one step closer to a remarkable service reputation.

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Turning Indifference Around

Have you ever been in a store or a restaurant where you felt you were just not very important?  Have you ever felt like walking out to show them that their opinion of you just doesn’t matter?

One of the biggest problems I have seen as far as how some businesses deliver service is in the indifference their employees demonstrate with regard to customers.  It would seem that many employees just don’t think customers are important; in their minds, the success of the business doesn’t hinge on customers feeling important, rather, it just matters that the product is delivered on time and to order.  To that I say, what a load of crap!  Where does anyone get that idea?

People’s feelings of importance are a primal need.  Any study of just about any motivational theory will tell you that people’s self-esteem is critical to motivating them.  So why do so many service providers act with such disdain for the people they serve?

I think it’s because of how they are treated as employees.  I think the vast majority of employees are treated as machines or resources rather than as valuable thinkers who critically influence the success or failure of the enterprise. Once one is treated like a tool, one becomes a tool (no pun intended).

How do business owners, managers, and leaders get employees to treat customers as valued influencers of business success?  They must treat their employees as valued influencers of business success.  Wellness in the body starts on the inside and so does business wellness.  Fair compensation, growth opportunities, regular recognition and acknowledgement, and listening to their ideas are great places to start.  Hear ye, hear ye, take care of employees and they will take care of customers.  When customers are taken care of, they take care of your business.

Open the Door

What is the power of welcome?  Think about it, how does it feel to be welcomed when you go somewhere where you really don’t know anybody?  I know I get nervous whenever I am going somewhere new and don’t know anyone.

Believe it or not, this nervousness is present whenever we do business with someone. It may be very subtle, almost undetectable, but it’s there.  Until we are welcomed and made to feel we are included, our brains jump up and down and say that this could be a threat.  It’s like our brains are in a James Bond movie looking for a trap everywhere.  However, when we are confronted with unfamiliar groups and all the possibilities of being disrespected or marginalized, muted or even cast aside, is it any wonder our brains jump into defensive mode?

What is my point?  One of the simplest things people can do in business to get customer relations off to a good start is simply to make people feel welcome.  A smile, a kind word, a show of interest, a question to encourage dialog, all of these small gestures can crack open a door ready to shut.  Shut doors do not make for good business or for developing loyal customers.

So think about this, what is it like to enter into business with you?  Is that opening sales call welcoming, is that entrance into your store like walking into someone’s home, does your website say we’re glad you’re here?  How can you communicate to your customers that they are welcome and you want them there?  How can you make it clear that you appreciate their input and want to have meaningful dialog?  It is up you to open the door.

Thanks Kate

It was a rainy day in New York.  My wife, some friends and I were looking for some respite from the downpour and we decided to step into Tiffany’s in the Village.  Now we knew we could not afford anything in the store but thought it would be fun to look around, besides, I love Tiffany lamps and I thought I might spy one and be inspired.

We made our way into the store and it was beautiful.  A nice foyer led to a series of rooms with jewelry cases containing some of the most beautiful rings and necklaces you will ever see.  Anyway, we were making our way around and then proceeded to make our move to leave when we stopped for a moment to look at a wall of artwork and photos.  Seated at a desk was Kate and Kate was lovely and charming.  See took an interest in our interest in the items on the wall.  She enquired as to where we were from and seemed to have no difficulty with the fact that we were not buying a thing.  We had a nice conversation where Kate proceeded to tell us the history of Tiffany and the details of various photos.  It was all interesting and made us all feel quite at home.

Why do I relay all of this?  Kate showed exactly the way it should be with customers.  She welcomed us in, she included us, she never tried to sell us anything, she accepted us whether we bought or not, she never looked down us in our shorts, flip-flops and wet umbrellas, Kate was hospitality personified.  The moral here, customers are people, not wallets with legs, and they deserve and even want to be welcomed, listened to, answered, shown interest and made to feel like they belong whether they buy from you or not.

Although I am not in the market for jewelry, if I had the funds, I would call Kate, she made me feel welcome.  If you, however, are in the market, call Kate, she will help you and make you feel good all along the way.  Thank you Kate for the lesson in hospitality and what really matters in customer service, making others feel valued for being people not for being money.