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Learn to respond to the customers' calls for help

Rochester Business Journal
May 23, 2003
Why do customers call us? What do they want?

Customers call for one reason, they want ... help! q "Help, I need an answer!" q "Help, I need information on my order!"

-- "Help, I need service!"

-- "Help, I have a question!"

-- "Help, I want to place an order!"

-- "Help, something's wrong or broken!"

-- "Help, I need to speak to someone!"

-- "Help! Help! Help!"

Do we give them help? No. What do we give them? Well, we almost give them help. We give them h e l ... l-hell. They want help. We give hell.

"Our policy says ..."

"She's not here today."

"I'm doing the best I can."

"There's a lot of other people in front of you."

"There's a lot of other people with the same ..."

"I'm either on my phone or away from my desk."

Any computer that answers the phone, anyone placing you on hold for more than a minute without a value message, anyone unfriendly, anyone passing the buck, anyone giving an excuse, anyone arguing ... is giving hell to the customer.

What are you giving?

How about taking a new perspective on an old subject? Isn't it really called "customer helping" rather than customer service? And wouldn't you deliver better service if you thought of it that way?

Well, now that you broke the ice with a new thought, what else do you think your customers would like?

Well here's a list of 10 customer desires and expectations to help your thinking:

1. They want value-"I want to know that what I'm buying is at a fair price and will be supported throughout the length of my ownership. And I want to understand how I profit from the use of your product or service."

2. They want excellent communication-"Let me know what I need to know, when I need to know it. No surprises and no misunderstandings."

3. They expect your attitude to be positive (even if theirs isn't). Attitude is happy, eager, willing and prepared to meet their needs.

4. They expect reliability-consistent; "Be there when I need you."

5. They look for tangibility of message-quality of product and performance combined with a professional image.

6. They want assurance and often need reassurance-"Deliver when you promised; have total product knowledge to help me; be there when I need you."

7. They expect empathy when something goes wrong-"Understand me and my needs. Give me your commitment."

8. They expect exceptional service as the norm, and use your service as a benchmark when it comes to placing a reorder-"I vote with my money, and an election is held every time I want to reorder or tell someone else about you."

9. They are hoping for a friendly interaction-"I want a friendly person to help me get what I want."

10. They want it now-no one wants to "press one, press two," no one wants to be placed on hold, no one wants a back order, no one wants a delay, no one wants it to be out of stock.

Know me, understand me, lead me, help me, serve me the way I expect to be served-now! Let's define your customer: overbearing, demanding, cheap, past due, wolf crying, disloyal, lying-and one more thing: paycheck!

The customer provides all of your money.

The president, CEO or owner of your company does not pay you. He or she is just a conduit for funds. The customer pays you. The boss just writes the checks for money put in the bank by customers. It's not your boss you need to be afraid to make angry, it's your customer.

When your company's cash flow can't make payroll, the CEO doesn't run home and break his piggybank to meet the obligation. Rather, he screams, "Collect more money! Make more sales!"

Get real. Your kids eat because customers buy! Want a new telephone greeting? "Hello, ABC Manufacturing, thanks for the food!"

Here's a way to ensure you understand who the customer is. Every time you lose a customer and he stops doing business with your company, the net result from the loss of revenue is your kids eat less.

To combat this, go home tonight and at the dinner table, take a picture of your children eating. Make duplicate copies of the picture and post them on the dashboard of your car, your telephone and your computer screen.

If you don't have any children, go home to your parents' house and let them take a picture of you eating-same thing.

GitBit: I have developed a formula for gaining customers and I'd love to get it to you free. Just go to, register if you're a first-time user, and enter "loyal" in the GitBit box.

(Jeffrey Gitomer, author of "The Sales Bible" and "Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless" and president of Charlotte, N.C.-based BuyGitomer Inc., gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or his e-mail address,

05/23/03 (C) Rochester Business Journal

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