CUSTOMER SERVICE Part 1: 3 great stories

A close friend told me the following story:

“A client was recently having unexpected problems transferring money to our company account. For reasons that neither he nor we could properly explain, the funds would simply not move across from his account to ours. Clearly, he had directed the bank to make the transfer and they confirmed that this was so to our accounts manager and that his account did have sufficient funds to cover the invoice. But all the same, in this wonderful modern world of ours, some computer error at the bank was not allowing the funds to make their way from his account to ours. We are an important supplier to this client and although he was ‘apparently’ doing ‘all he could’ he knew he was slowly losing our trust. And he was. This situation had gone on for over two weeks and I began to get a little frustrated.

My client, sensing this, surprised me. He opened an account with our bank, and at my branch in fact. He then deposited the exact amount owing into this new account and promptly transferred the correct amount to our company account!”
How’s that for CUSTOMER-to-Supplier service?!

Here’s another story I recently heard from a business acquaintance:
I wanted to open an account at a bank close by to my office. I phoned them and asked many questions about different accounts and their options and costs and ending with “how long would the procedure take?” The gentleman who answered my call was audibly smiling all the way through our talk, answering all my questions easily and responding to my final question by stating in the most confident of tones, “15 minutes”. I liked. I made an appointment there and then for the same afternoon. I was greeted by a seemingly helpful lady at the front desk. It was true, no more than 15 minutes later my account was operational. I was happy.

Oh! – I did have one question. “Would it be possible to have a set sum of money transferred each month automatically from my main account to 3 sub-accounts for my 3 lovely children?” The lady smiled, or actually she didn’t, she simply said, “No, we don’t do that.” I began to explain “at my other bank they have a …” Wait a second, I thought. Did you just say “No”? That’s my first ever request, and all you said is “no”. My first ever experience with you is “NO”. She could have said, “oh yes, of course Sir, we don’t do it exactly like that… but, we can do something similar for you no problem. We’ll open a separate account for each of your children and the set-amount will be transferred from your to theirs at no cost” – which, by the way, is actually what that bank does offer. But she just said “no”. I closed my new account immediately.

Third Story:
So there’s this shop assistant in a beautiful jewellery shop I worked with in SE Asia. She has a habit of taking an unsure customer out of the store and to a lovely coffee shop across the mall where she buys drinks for them both. I know that this leading Jewellery Retailer always has coffee, tea, water and chocolates and cookies available in the store too. But there, in that neutral environment of the coffee shop across the mall, Tanya, the saleswoman, is very good at chilling out together with the potential customer whilst they talk freely about the weather, kids, fashion and anything else that springs to mind. Slowly she eases the affluent customer into talking openly about her reasons for looking at jewellery that day, her different purchasing choices and her preferences.

The sale is usually closed a little later back in the store with smiles all round.

Nice stories? True stories.

Compare some typical phrases that are easily spoken, all too well known, often only resentfully respected, and sadly but consequently rarely truly put into action:

• The customer is King

• Treat your customer as you would like to be treated by him or her

• Think of your customer as the person who really funds your salary

• The customer is always right (which, by the way, is of course not true anyway really!)

• And here’s my personal favourite: Hug your customers!

What do you think of these? We’ll talk about these and more in Part 2 of our post on this topic.

In Part 2 we’ll talk about some easy but key aspects of creating a true customer focused environment and culture that delivers to your business needs.