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Sunday, 7 October 2012

Ask Your Customers, Do The Actually Like Dealing With You? If Not, Why Not?

I am approaching this week’s post slightly nervously mainly because I don’t want to endorse an unwarranted (I like to think) reputation as a grumpy old whatever.

I have always been a believer in that old adage:

“Learn from the past, live for the present, plan for the future!

and just recently I seem to have been learning a lot from the past primarily in the area of good manners and values which I am sorry to say, are, all too frequently, sadly lacking these days (do you see why I was nervous about this post?).

My father was ferocious in driving good manners into us and I hope that his strictures were successful.  They ranged from having good table manners, standing up when a lady came into the room, saying please and thank you without exception, general courtesy and much else.

Of later I have experienced some wonderful examples of supreme customer case and, indeed, one of my Vistage members also told me a story of great customer care and service in a hotel in Manchester.

I am glad to say that we both sent messages of congratulations and thanks to the companies in each case and received back slightly surprised but very pleased replies of thanks.

On the other hand these experiences have been almost overwhelmed by some awful, rude and ill-mannered contacts with people who should have been properly trained to understand that effective relationships with customers are the most important facet of business.

I have been truly shocked how I have been treated by some people without ever heating please or thank you, jus “sign here” and similar.  On the other hand it is noticeable that a major company like Premier Inns have done something about that.

The initial experience at the reception desk could be awful as the weary traveller is expected to pay up front but in fact, it is a pleasant experience simply because the receptionist is truly welcoming, polite, friendly and helpful.  In other words, we tend to find them likeable and hence it is a pleasant experience.

The fact is we much prefer to deal with people and businesses whom we LIKE and, on the other hand, we don’t much enjoy dealing with people we DON’T LIKE.  It really is as simple as that but does that ever form a part of a training course or training manual for frontline staff?

We work hard to produce vision and mission statements, statements of purpose and so on but all of that needs to be underpinned with the values of the business.  Please don’t just say “honesty and integrity” because those two ought to be givens in any case.  Brainstorm the values of your business with your team and see what transpires.

Good manners can be trained into people and whatever age you happen to be the reaction is invariably a positive one.  Remember the Ritz-Carlton statement of their ethos?

·       “We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen”

and how about this lovely saying attributed to Prince Philip:

·       “If a m"n opens a car door for a woman, it’s either a new car or a new woman"
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