How Do You Do When It Comes to Customer Service?

As I write this, the winter Olympic games have begun in British Columbia, Canada, near Vancouver. Beautiful country.

Countries host the Olympics to call attention to themselves…to show themselves at their best. Unfortunately, just one glitch can outweigh all the good a country hopes to garner.

Thus I cringed for Canada, not to mention the Olympic Committee, when I heard a reporter call the Olympics the "Glitch Games" on the news the other night.

Most of the problems at the games stem from adverse weather, and the country has no control over the weather, of course. The designation seemed unfair to me. But on this particular day, the ice grooming machines in the racing oval were creating ridges making skating dangerous for the games' competitors, their customers. That problem put reporters over the top, and they were giving the games — and fair or not, Canada — some pretty sour press.

Similar "sour press" can dog our businesses when customers perceive, rightly or wrongly, that they have received poor service. Worse, it often takes very little to set "sour press" in motion. Yet once a customer becomes disgruntled, he rarely, if ever, returns. (Happy customers, on the other hand, return to do business again and again.)

When you consider that organizations commonly enjoy two-thirds of their business from existing clients and one-third from new customers, it's clear that if just one of your employees ignores customer needs, he can put your organization at risk. In other words, you'd better look carefully at your customer-facing employees. Are they the right persons for the job? Can your organization coach them to better, even superb customer service?

And how about you? How do you, your organization's leader, treat your customers? Your people learn from watching you. You're their example. So maybe it's time for a bit of self-examination. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to determine how you are doing:

Troubles at the Olympics are extremely visible. Most issues in business are much more subtle and further often hidden from the boss. They can be more damaging to your business than the current problems in Vancouver are to the city, country and Olympic Committee, however. Fortunately, fixing customer service is possible with the right people on the job…and with the right message from the top of your organization.

Seven Tips for Better Customer Relationships

There are two ways to increase your sales volume: 1) Find new customers, and 2) sell more to existing customers.

Most customers seem to focus naturally on the first option. In reality, however, it is more profitable to sell to an existing customer.

Here's why: Selling to an existing customer costs less. Existing customers will refer you. In addition, they are willing to pay more for the value of time saved and reduced risk.

Selling to existing customers depends on relationship building. Here are seven tips that will help you when planning a relationship-building strategy:

1) Involve everyone in your organization. Make sure that all personnel who interface with customers:

2) Know your customer's business inside and out. Customers will happily provide you with information that makes this awareness possible. Ask questions about their objectives, what role you play in meeting those objectives, key trends in their industry, their main competitors, and how they position themselves against these competitors.

3) Know your customer personally. People make decisions based on who they are.

4) Pulse-check your relationship frequently. Continually seek feedback about how your customer perceives you, and your products or services. Find out if you are living up to your customers' expectations. How can you improve? How can you become their number one supplier? What new challenges might you help them meet?

5) Be your customers' eyes and ears. Provide unsolicited information that will help them meet their personal and organizational goals. Maintain a steady stream of value-added communication by identifying and sending materials, ideas and news they might use. This can have a powerful effect in positioning you as a valued partner.

6) Thank your customers — thank them every time. Make sure your customers know the value you place on doing business with them.

7) Make customer development an integral part of the way you do business. Ensure that everyone on your team understands his role maintaining and developing good profitable relationships with your major accounts.

Your Solution Toolbox: Identifying Ideal Customer Service Employees

Measuring What Matters
Not every worker is an ideal candidate for customer service. So how can you find candidates who are? And, how can you train existing employees in the fine points of customer service the way you see it?

I suggest you use Profile International's assessment tool Customer Service Profile™ (CSP).

CSP measures six employee behaviors necessary for extraordinary customer service: trust, tact, empathy, conformity, focus and flexibility. It also analyzes how closely a candidate's perspective matches your company's customer service policies and attitudes.

You may select from one of five CSP options. Four are geared to specific areas, healthcare: finance, retail and hospital. The fifth is a general edition meant for any industry. Each option can help conquer the challenges of dissatisfied customers, legal liability, high turnover and inappropriate messaging about your business.

After a candidate or employee completes the CSP assessment, you will receive four reports:

I have found CSP so versatile that I've suggested using it not only for initial placement, but also as a tool for employee promotion, and for succession planning, coaching and self-improvement.

To put Customer Service Profile™ to work in your organization, call me today at 952-322-3330 or send an email to

HR Consulting
For many organizations, the next step is to seek professional assistance to find out how to:

Let’s Talk! We offer a no obligation consultation to informally assess your current policies, procedures, and practices. This may help determine what’s missing in your current programs to meet the above recommendations. Call 952-322-3330 or send an email to

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