BY MIKE MARCHEV
The first step in customer service is making your callers feel welcome. After 35 years of working with entrepreneurs and small companies, I have come to identify and endorse a common trait that is preventing a more rapid growth curve. “Most people talk a good game! Their walk is often lacking.”
As a former collegiate athlete, I remember hearing ad nausea that “you have to walk your talk.” A New York Giant’s head coach once put this into perspective when he told his team, “It is time we stop telling people how good we are and start getting good.” (I love that advice.)
I tell you this to prepare you for a formula designed to grow your home-based business. If the truth be known it is more of a secret, but it does underscore the importance of “walking your talk” and simply doing what you say you will do.
The phrase “walking your talk” reminds me of the problem and the opportunity that home-based entrepreneurs are faced with when seeking and servicing new clients. Articles like this should not have to be written, but companies, people, employers and employees just don’t seem to grasp the meaning of this business “thing.”
According to Peter Drucker, a renowned and respected business consultant, the sole purpose of any business is to create customers. Therefore, it is important to remember that it isn’t about you. It never was about you, and it will never be about you. It is all about them…the customers! If you don’t have any yet, I strongly recommend that you go get some.
As a speaker, I have been paid to share proven business-building strategies, yet I often bore myself to tears when I get on the subject of customer service. Imagine paying somebody to remind you “it is not wise to bite the hand that feeds you.”
But here lies an opportunity for the home-based business professional. A great number of your competitors slide into the human (but foolish) habit of taking their customers for granted. They are not “walking their talk” and they are giving customer service what amounts to nothing more than non-productive “lip service.”
With so much “stuff” going on, accompanied with too much “noise” arriving in the form of “new, cheaper, advanced and smaller,” it has become easy to lose focus. With telephones, cell phones, beepers, blackberries, iPods and every other type of communication device known to humankind, coupled with the marketing expense, advertising expense, consultant expense, lawyer’s expense and every other expense it takes to keep yourself in business, I humbly remind you that the next time a customer takes the initiative to call you, it just might be a good idea to answer the call and pretend that you are happy to hear from that customer. Then, and you can use your own imagination on this one, do or say something to make the caller feel glad that he or she dialed your number and got you on the line.
The New York Times article went on to highlight a few more thoughts on customer service that I personally endorse without exception:
- “I’m not anti-computer and I’m not anti-capitalist. I am anti-arrogance.” How many times have you called somebody up in hope that you would find a solution to one of your problems only to be greeted by some arrogant “big shot” who sounded like he was doing you a favor by talking to you?
- “It would be funny if it wasn’t so depressing.” I could not have stated this any better myself.
- “Memo to corner office: Answer the phone!” When your phone rings, it is a clear indication that somebody, somewhere, somehow has decided that he or she would like to speak with you. You are immediately given control of the situation since you are in a position to make the caller feel welcome, comfortable and important. To do otherwise is the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot.
- “Anything a company does to make its products and services a little more engaging, a little less ordinary, can pay big dividends. Anything like, say, answering the phone.”
Establishing a home-based business can be challenging at times, and at the very least, lonely, confusing and frustrating. (I know this as a result of nearly 30 years of working from home). So when a prospect or client decides to dial your phone number or send you an email for any one of a hundred reasons, craft your simple knee-jerk response to the incoming communication as the enormous opportunity it represents.
By adhering to my advice you will soon become the exception, and your opening sentence on the phone might sound like, “Your phone call is important to me…and that is why I personally answered your call. How can I help you today?”
I just have to repeat this: “Stop telling people how good you are and start getting good.”