Proper Care and Feeding of Your Customer

Every business has customers. Large businesses have customers within the business. Customers are what makes the wheels turn for business. How those customers are treated reflects on how the customers treat the business. It is a symbiotic relationship in some ways.

Business customers outside a business generally have the privilege of doing business with a number of companies which sell a product they need. That product may be anything from cleaning services to internal watch springs and gears. in respect to this thought, it is important to keep ones mind on the business at hand.

The closer a business gets to its customers, the more attention needs to be payed to interaction with the customer. The customer might decide the business contact is their soul mate, and wants to share life’s most intimate details with the contact, usually a business representative of some fashion.

Looks are deceiving. You have no idea who your customer really is.

The business representative always needs to remember this is a business transaction, no matter how personal the customer wants to be. In this mindset, the following guidelines should be in effect.

1. Gossip with the customer is losing business. Business relationships come and go. You do not want to end a relationship with a customer who knows things about your business and perhaps personal life you wouldn’t want shared in public. Talking generally and amiably about, sports, the economy, or the weather are safe subjects. Politics, religion, and other similar subjects are beyond off limits.

2. Keep your end of the conversation aimed on the business you are there to transact. Time is money. There is a line between between friendliness and wasting time you could be spending with another customer.

3. Over talking is bad for the business and the bottom line. Talking just to talk can lead to uncomfortable conversation, or conversation you may later wish had never taken place. Some customers have days where they are withdrawn and want little interaction. Be aware of your customers wishes, and your conversation.

4. Keep it professional. Sometimes it is okay to get a little loose, and joke around. Other times one off color comment can lose a valued account or customer. Off color, race, sex, and other jokes along these lines are taboo with your customer, even if they initiate them. You do not have to contribute to the conversation.

5. Don’t waste the customers time. Hanging around too long because of an attractive worker close by, or it’s only a few more minutes until lunch is bad business. The world if full of attractive people who are looking for someone like you. Don’t mess up a business relationship with a relationship that should not have happened. Spend those extra a few minutes reviewing your next customer, or going over what you could have done better with this customer.

6. Ensure the customer is comfortable. If you are busy and behind schedule, that is not your customers problem. Your customer needs to feel important to you, and know you have time for them. Appearing hurried or flustered raises red flags in the customers mind.

A good story about good business customer relations is a story of an ex neighbor who ran a wrecking yard. One of the car companies came out with a special anniversary edition car he fell in love with. The closest dealership that had one of the scarce cars on the lot was over two hours away.

Being frugal, he combined reasons for the trip. He would transport car parts to a wrecking yard a friend owned in that city, pick up two cars, and visit the dealership too. The next day, he loaded up a trailer with car parts, and headed out of town.

His parts transaction took longer than he had planned, and it was about two hours before the car dealership closed for the day. Rather than get cleaned up first and have the dealership close on him, he went straight to the dealership.

When the first salesman approached him, he told the salesman exactly why he was there. He was interested in buying this special edition car that the dealership said in a phone call they had on the lot. The salesman, after looking him over, decided he couldn’t afford such a car, but was polite enough to show the car to him. They discussed the car, and it’s attributes for a few minutes, exchanging thoughts on the car.

He told the salesman he wanted to take the car for a test drive, to see if the car was all it was claimed to be. The salesman who was so willing b.s., was not ready for this question. Looking at a man in scruffy worn work clothes, the salesman decided he could not afford the car and denied the test drive because it didn’t look like he could afford to buy any new car.

The neighbor asked the salesman to follow him to his truck and trailer. When they arrived the neighbor reached into the cab and pulled out a gym bag. They walked back over to the car and the neighbor unzipped the bag. Tipping the bag over, wrapped stacks of $100.00 bills fell out, covering the hood of the car. The stacks of money totaled the price of the car plus about thirty percent.

The salesman was overwhelmed. After some blubbering, he said he would be happy to go out on a test drive. Putting the money back into the bag, the neighbor said, no, he’d changed his mind, and he walked back to his truck and trailer and left the lot.

In this story, the salesman was so busy thinking about how great a salesman he was, he completely lost focus on what would what he was there for. The salesman lost what would have been a major sale, maybe bigger than this months commission.

When I listen to junior salesman give their pitch, I remember the wrecking yard owner and his dream car. He did buy one a few weeks later from another dealership. Often salesmen are so busy peddling a line, they either forgot, or never learned why they are part of the conversation.

Of course my neighbor venting his frustration told me and others about his terrible experience at the car lot. All of us listeners, of course shared the story, because that is what we do.

More Words than a picture

A picture may be worth a thousand words. Having an on-top of it Manager overseeing your business is worth much more as seen in the following pictures.

The first picture is of a placard at a local Applebee’s. The business of this Applebee’s at least is customer satisfaction through employee perfection. The greeters, wait staff, cooks, and bus staff are true professionals. They work and maybe live the slogan (below) they walk by going to and from the kitchen area. I only stop in for lunch, and while I am there, I think, “Wow, what a great place this must be to work at!”

What every business should strive for - property of Applebee's

What every business should strive for

This store on the other hand is one store of a national chain. In this case office oriented products from paper to printers. One look at the trash can was enough to catch my attention about the state of the business at this particular store.

The outside grounds between the store and parking lot were filthy. The store itself needed better lighting. It looked like saving on the electric bill was more important than the customer experience. Not one person smiled as I was asked if I needed help.

It feels dirty and have not even entered the store yet.

It feels dirty and have not even entered the store yet.

The thing is, people notice. A very few people like me look around from the parking lot to the bathroom. For other people it is just a feeling that the business feels sort of icky and they want to get out as quickly as possible even. Customers in this second dingy looking store spend less time pondering whether they should make a purchase. Customers are quicker to leave and spend their money at a place that feels cleaner and fresher.

If you serve the public, and you want to make the best impression, look at your business as your customer’s do. Starting with the parking lot, is everything clean and tidy? Is the lighting appropriate? Do your employees look as if they want to be there? Do you want to be there?

Having a dirty building front, visible smoking employees, old gum and trash near the entrance, poor lighting are some of the things that turn off repeat business. The biggest hit to the bottom line is your customers spending their money somewhere else. Clean up your business so your customers want to stay and return in the future.