One of the most important questions people ask when they are focused on improving their quantity and quality of business is: “What is my competitive advantage? What makes me unique, memorable, special… what truly sets me apart from the rest?”
While there are no definitively right answers to that question, most people come to some conclusion that customer service is a critical component of your competitive advantage. For most businesses, the service they offer can vary from exceptional to not so hot, depending upon circumstances.
Why is that? Why does the same company, and even the same people within that company provide world class service some of the time, and marginal service (or worse) other times?
That answer can be found in asking a different question: “What makes you (or your staff) happy when serving your customers?” While these answers also vary, most people come up with some sort of variation of “I am happy when my customer is happy.”
Do we enjoy dealing with agitated or disgruntled people? Normally not. We derive our joy from delivering value, by making others feel good about their experience, and by exceeding people’s expectations.
What comes first then, the happy customer or the happy person serving the customer? This is not the chicken or the egg quandary. The happy person serving the customer NEEDS to come first, because it is a very unusual day when your customer comes into your business looking to cheer YOU up.
This all seems very obvious. At the same time that many people realize this truth, it is rare that people consciously take steps to make sure that their greatest customer service assets are being serviced too – whether that person in on your staff, in another department, or if that person is YOU. It is critical that you continually improve the emotional, physical and mental support you are supplying to the people serving your customers.
One of my friends and colleagues, Paul Wesselemann, shared a story about his time working at an HIV/AIDS support network. He explained how it was absolutely unacceptable to come to work when you were feeling even a bit ill, as even the smallest cold could be extremely dangerous for someone with HIV. He was REQUIRED first and foremost to take care of himself, make sure he was 100% before he was allowed to offer help and support to others.
How committed are you to taking the same care of YOUR needs? Your task for the month is to identify and act upon a couple of ways to keep you in proper shape so you can take care of your always important customers. Share your experience and post a comment below.