There has never been a more important time to be good at the basics! Customer service, service service.
The Economy is improving, volumes are up. Our organizations are lean and we must follow the process. Nothing is more important to the long-term health of our business than the trust of our customers, all our customers external and internal.
Do your customers really trust your company? Ask yourself: If you were the customer, would you trust your company?
“Quando dio, ole castigarci ci manda,
quello che desideriamo.”
When the gods want to punish us they answer our prayers.
A few years ago I was asked to deliver a talk to some big corporate customers of TRW. We gathered in a fine hotel near Frankfurt’s Sachsenhausen. TRW wanted to share some lessons the attendees would find useful for dealing with their own customers — how to be more customer-centric, how to coordinate and integrate the customer-facing functions, and how to foster an employee culture that would support customer-friendly initiatives.
Only a few minutes before I was scheduled to take the stage, one of my TRW German Colleges took me aside and asked if I had ever heard the story of “Der Mann mit dem Klappstuhl “(the man with the folding chair) Seeing my blank look, he proceeded to relate it to me:
Back in the day a top TRW executive had been on his way to sit in on an internal sales meeting at one of the division offices in Germany, when he encountered the division’s sales manager carrying a folding chair with him into the meeting.
There has never been a more important time
to be good at the basics!
Quality, safety and process control are and must
be the bedrock of who we are.
Curiosity aroused, the exec asked what was going on. The manager replied that his chair would change the whole character of the discussion at the meeting. “Just watch,” the manager said, as they both entered the conference room.
“No,” the manager replied, “this is my customer’s chair. I brought it to the meeting so my customer can sit right here and listen to our discussion.” Then, with a nod to the empty chair, the manager said the meeting could begin. But, as he had predicted, the character of the discussion was indeed quite different from the typical sales gathering. Several times during the meeting, participants found themselves asking whether a particular point would be made in the same way if the customer were actually sitting there and listening. Would we say this in front of our own customer? What would the customer think of our plan for dealing with this issue? How do we think our customer would interpret this new policy? Would our customer agree with us that this is a good idea, or not?
All across TRW this sales manager soon became known as “Der Mann mit dem Klappstuhl,” or “the man with the folding chair.” But there’s a lesson in the story for each of us: We should be putting the customer’s perspective into every discussion we have and every decision we make. Nothing is more important to the long-term health of our business than the trust of our customers, all our customers external and internal.
Moreover, the e-social revolution continues to make it more and more likely that customers will find out exactly what is said and how it is said, whether they are present in the room with us or not. New technologies mean that transparency is on the rise, and transparency is like a disinfectant for business: it will purify things and help start the healing, but first it’s going to sting like hell.
Extreme transparency means that customers will soon be demanding Extreme Trust. They will be looking for vendors that are proactively trustworthy–businesses that look out for their interests at all times, just as if they had been in the room with them during the internal discussion of terms, capabilities, or problems. (as told by Don Peppers)
Trust comes from repeated service and quality!
What kind of trust do you earn from your customers when they need your help?