The Voice of Your Customer

Have you ever listened to your customers? Probably. Digging deeper, I must ask if you’ve ever asked them how you’re really doing? Sometimes hearing the truth can hurt, but it can also help.

So far, it’s been a great week. Having just finished speaking at Volvo of Memphis, located in Memphis, Tennessee. I discovered that Ernie Norcross and his family are “in-tune” with their customers. Ernie isn’t afraid to find out how he and his team are doing with their customer base because he knows that he wouldn’t have a company without them. Ernie’s business is no-different than yours.

Customers are the real reason your company exists. If you can’t meet your customer’s needs, your company won’t survive and furthermore, just meeting his or her needs may not be good enough. In today’s market, we have to exceed the customer’s needs. Really over deliver them every time!

The difference between our place and the competitor in the next county is our people. You want to develop a lasting relationship with a customer that empowers you while delighting them. Trust and loyalty are the results of a delighted customer. Together, we can develop increasingly satisfied customers. When delighting every customer is at the heart of all we do, we will be closer to truly generating customers for life.

For over 30 years, I have been telling businesses, “People buy you first. Your company second and your product and service third….AND they buy in that order!” Here are some helpful “customer building” techniques.

Over the phone, make sure the person that answers the telephone is polite and helpful. Always remember the very first picture they see of your business is through their ear. That’s right, their ear. When they hear things, they see things. That picture stays in the mind. Make sure they are seeing a good picture of your place.

While working with the fine group at Volvo of Memphis, I told the team to watch their O. A. I. The O stands for Observation…what do the customers see when they first see your operation? The A stands for Association…customers always remember their experience when it comes to service. They will rehash actions from the past. How do you rate? The I stands for Imagination…a customer’s imagination starts and reacts the moment he or she sees the way your business is being conducted.

That brings to mind a funny story from San Francisco. I was training at a very large RV dealership. I could not open the sliding door to the service department. After trying for 4 to 5 minutes, a mechanic appeared from the inside to help slide the door open. After trying together for another 2 minutes, we finally got it opened. Picture it! Two grown men fighting to open a sliding door. My personal O. A.
I. was…if this dealership could not fix their own sliding door to their service department, do you think I would leave my $460K motor home there to fix the slide on my coach? I don’t think so!

Let me end this important, focal point. Total customers focus means ABSOLUTE COMMITMENT to the CUSTOMER. This commitment to the customer, drives everything, particularly the way individuals think,  the way we work and the way each department is managed. Total customer focus can only be achieved when everyone at your company works together.

Oh, by the way, when I revealed the broken sliding door incident to the owner of the RV dealership, he had the sliding door fixed before I left his lot. Too bad the owner didn’t know it was broken 3 days earlier. You think maybe they lost some business while it was broken? Most assuredly!

See you next time.

Correspondence regarding this article should go to: D.J. Says, 2820 Andover Way, Woodstock, GA 30189

D. J. Harrington is an author, journalist, seminar leader, international trainer, and marketing consultant. He works primarily with customer service personnel, and his clients include such world-class companies as General Motors, DuPont, Caterpillar, and Damon Corporation. He may be reached at 800-352-5252. E-mail: 52 weeks a year, we are as close as your telephone.