The Power of the Customer

This is an example of an article written by Jim Feldman for a publication or newsletter. Jim is an author, keynote speaker and consultant who writes and speaks about Change Management, Customer Service and Innovative Problem Solving. Contact us about using Jim as an author, interview or speaker at 312-527-9111.

Walmart Grocery Checkout Line in Gladstone, Missouri
photo credit: Walmart Stores

Instead of one person being unhappy and telling his friends, this unhappy customer has now told thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, about his experience. Remember…we are now in a world where one unhappy customer can spread his message throughout the world.

And one happy customer may not take the time to tell others because he feels that is what is expected.
Here is a story that appeared on the Internet. It illustrates how important customer service has become in this age of instant communication.
The Business Buzz – Interesting Phone Etiquette (Sorry, I could not find the name of author)
I went to Staples, our local office store, to get some supplies, and found a disk designed to check my computer programs for YK2 compliance. Throughout all of the paperwork that accompanied this disk, the Staples phone number was listed as the place to get additional information on a program designed to repair any problems this test disk revealed. So, I called the number to find out what the program repaired, the system requirements necessary to run the program, and the cost of the program, and here is what happened.
First, I sat through an automated menu to be able to direct myself to the right area in their office. Then I spent close to 10 minutes on hold listening to their machine tell me that I was really important and please, do not hang up, because I really am important.
Then when I finally got to a live person, he told me, “There is no such product in my catalogue.” At his suggestion, I read him their own advertising and promotional copy, in an attempt to prove to the employee that the product did indeed exist, and they were the ones stating that they sold it. This young man was adamant, and refused to even look further for the item. In total it was explained to me three times that I was obviously wrong, that this company had never carried, let alone sold this product, and that the flyer, that was in my hand, had never been produce by this company.
After it was explained so thoroughly to me that I was wrong, I asked, “Why would I have called this number if your company was not printing flyers and promoting the product?” The answer I received will stay with me for the rest of my life. He told me:
“Well, I guess you learned something important today, don’t call here!”
Working quickly, as I had to scrape my jaw up off the floor before I could talk, I asked for a supervisor. Once I got to the supervisor, and explained the situation, she called up, on her computer catalogue, the item I was looking for. It had been in the computer all the time. Her suggestion was, “If you want the program, go to one of our retail stores. They should have it.” She also assured me that she would talk to the gentleman whom I had been speaking to before.
When dealing with people, you should show them, not simply tell them through a recorded message, that they are important. It was not a big purchase, but I tried my level best to give Staples my money, and they worked hard in refusing to take it. Unfortunately, we seem to be moving to a society where what you say is important, not what you do. You need to look at your business and make the choice, substance or hot air?
By the way, I did go to their store, and they did have it on the shelf, but so did Office-Max, less than a mile farther down the road. I am not sure if this is something I want or need at the present time. If I do decide to buy it, I am not sure where I will buy it, but I am sure where I will not buy it. If more of us vote with our wallets, and let it be known why we are doing so, maybe it will become just a little easier, and a lot more pleasant, do business.
Even though this incident was not life threatening the author told the world. He talked to any one that listened or read his emails. He was not wrong, but felt the need to tell others. Certainly Staples did not handle this well. I am confident they regret this incident. Perhaps if he knew this story he would have applied his energy to some other task.
President Theodore Roosevelt and naturalist William Beebe had a ritual they would do each night on their after dinner walks together. One of them would look up at the stars and declare: That is the Spiral Galaxy of Andromeda, which is as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galaxies and 750,000 light years away. It consists of one hundred billion suns, each larger than our sun. Then there was silence. Finally, one of them would say, Now I think we are small enough. Let’s go to bed.
Keep things in perspective. Your delay or canceled flight may seem like the most important thing in the world to you. Yet, in the big picture, it is only a small occurrence in your life. You would be a fortunate person, indeed, if all your problems involved only a delay of a few hours or some uninformed sales clerk . . . make the best of it.
Remember whether you are purchasing office equipment or find yourself delayed on a flight, at the time it may be very important. We, as customers, want to share our anger. We want to tell others.
If you are going to offer exemplary “customer service,” you must treat customers like real, individual, feeling human beings. You must treat them with friendliness, honesty, and respect. They want full value for their money, a complete guarantee of satisfaction, fast delivery and accurate, knowledgeable answers on inquires. Treat your customers exactly as you want to be treated when you are someone else’s customer. Simple, huh?
So how come so many companies forget these simple principles…
•Stay in contact with your customer regularly
•Find a way to make them start “thinking” about your services.
•Sell them on ideas, rather than products, by sharing proven case histories with them.
•Make their research for a resource an enjoyable experience.
•Make them know they’re the most important customer you have!
Jim shares these stories in each and every presentation.

Instead of one person being unhappy and telling his friends, this unhappy customer has now told thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, about his experience. Remember…we are now in a world where one unhappy customer can spread his message throughout the world.

And one happy customer may not take the time to tell others because he feels that is what is expected.

Here is a story that appeared on the Internet. It illustrates how important customer service has become in this age of instant communication.

The Business Buzz – Interesting Phone Etiquette (Sorry, I could not find the name of author)

I went to Staples, our local office store, to get some supplies, and found a disk designed to check my computer programs for YK2 compliance. Throughout all of the paperwork that accompanied this disk, the Staples phone number was listed as the place to get additional information on a program designed to repair any problems this test disk revealed. So, I called the number to find out what the program repaired, the system requirements necessary to run the program, and the cost of the program, and here is what happened.

First, I sat through an automated menu to be able to direct myself to the right area in their office. Then I spent close to 10 minutes on hold listening to their machine tell me that I was really important and please, do not hang up, because I really am important.

Then when I finally got to a live person, he told me, “There is no such product in my catalogue.” At his suggestion, I read him their own advertising and promotional copy, in an attempt to prove to the employee that the product did indeed exist, and they were the ones stating that they sold it. This young man was adamant, and refused to even look further for the item. In total it was explained to me three times that I was obviously wrong, that this company had never carried, let alone sold this product, and that the flyer, that was in my hand, had never been produce by this company.

After it was explained so thoroughly to me that I was wrong, I asked, “Why would I have called this number if your company was not printing flyers and promoting the product?” The answer I received will stay with me for the rest of my life. He told me:

“Well, I guess you learned something important today, don’t call here!”

Working quickly, as I had to scrape my jaw up off the floor before I could talk, I asked for a supervisor. Once I got to the supervisor, and explained the situation, she called up, on her computer catalogue, the item I was looking for. It had been in the computer all the time. Her suggestion was, “If you want the program, go to one of our retail stores. They should have it.” She also assured me that she would talk to the gentleman whom I had been speaking to before.

When dealing with people, you should show them, not simply tell them through a recorded message, that they are important. It was not a big purchase, but I tried my level best to give Staples my money, and they worked hard in refusing to take it. Unfortunately, we seem to be moving to a society where what you say is important, not what you do. You need to look at your business and make the choice, substance or hot air?

By the way, I did go to their store, and they did have it on the shelf, but so did Office-Max, less than a mile farther down the road. I am not sure if this is something I want or need at the present time. If I do decide to buy it, I am not sure where I will buy it, but I am sure where I will not buy it. If more of us vote with our wallets, and let it be known why we are doing so, maybe it will become just a little easier, and a lot more pleasant, do business.

Even though this incident was not life threatening the author told the world. He talked to any one that listened or read his emails. He was not wrong, but felt the need to tell others. Certainly Staples did not handle this well. I am confident they regret this incident. Perhaps if he knew this story he would have applied his energy to some other task.

President Theodore Roosevelt and naturalist William Beebe had a ritual they would do each night on their after dinner walks together. One of them would look up at the stars and declare: That is the Spiral Galaxy of Andromeda, which is as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galaxies and 750,000 light years away. It consists of one hundred billion suns, each larger than our sun. Then there was silence. Finally, one of them would say, Now I think we are small enough. Let’s go to bed.

Keep things in perspective. Your delay or canceled flight may seem like the most important thing in the world to you. Yet, in the big picture, it is only a small occurrence in your life. You would be a fortunate person, indeed, if all your problems involved only a delay of a few hours or some uninformed sales clerk . . . make the best of it.

Remember whether you are purchasing office equipment or find yourself delayed on a flight, at the time it may be very important. We, as customers, want to share our anger. We want to tell others.

If you are going to offer exemplary “customer service,” you must treat customers like real, individual, feeling human beings. You must treat them with friendliness, honesty, and respect. They want full value for their money, a complete guarantee of satisfaction, fast delivery and accurate, knowledgeable answers on inquires. Treat your customers exactly as you want to be treated when you are someone else’s customer. Simple, huh?

So how come so many companies forget these simple principles…

  • Stay in contact with your customer regularly
  • Find a way to make them start “thinking” about your services.
  • Sell them on ideas, rather than products, by sharing proven case histories with them.
  • Make their research for a resource an enjoyable experience.
  • Make them know they’re the most important customer you have!

Jim shares these stories in each and every presentation.

 

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