Friday, October 14, 2011

KeFactors Friday (Rewind): Customer Labels

Customer. Client. Constituent. Donor. Stakeholder. Patient.

As much as labels tell us what is, they also tell us what isn’t—and therein lies the rub, especially in customer relations.

Plenty of organizations make this mistake: they’ll allocate best resources to serve important customers, at the same time forgetting the value of each and every customer.Taking it a step further, for many organizations, their suppliers and employees are also customers. (How often have I seen on consumer complaint web sites, “I may have to work for these bozos, but I’ll never spend my money on their products or services!”)

Here’s another fact of life: organizations who habitually deceive and mistreat their employees suffer the worst customer relations—because degraded, unhappy employees will, consciously or not, spread the misery around.

So what do you do?

First, get in the habit of treating everyone as a customer. Don’t differentiate: close the gap between customer and co-worker (or supplier). Hopefully this will mean a reduction in phony cordialities, and an increase in spreading a habit of trust and respect.

Second, expect to be surprised. Unfailingly, human beings manage to do better in life, so that delivery man coming through your service door may be working his way through school and could one day become a client.

It’s a matter of trust and treatment. Nobody does business with organizations for whom every transaction requires a leap of faith. Without trust, nothing can really get done. And we may forget the things ever said to us, but we never forget the way we were treated.

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