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“The Player Who ‘Serves’ Well Seldom Loses – in Business it’s NO Different” – Chapter 7/9

Evolving from a Boss into a Leader

You’ll be receiving each chapter via email over the next few weeks. Keep an eye out for Chapter 8 in your next email from BOSS.

7. Your Business, 15 Seconds at a Time

How long on average does a customer interact with a representative of your business? Is it an 8-hour phone call or a 15-second interaction across a bar or counter?

However long it takes, during that time your employee is your entire business to that customer.

That means you need to empower each of your employees to make the exchange as amazing as possible. If they have the ability to do something that will make the customer feel like they’re having an awesome experience, the customer will come back (and recommend you to others).

But if your employee is hamstrung in decision-making or their ability to adjust things to the customer’s benefit then the experience obviously diminishes, and it may become a time-suck as the employee has to kick the customer’s request up the interoffice food chain in order to get anything done.

Here’s a simple psychological truth – if someone has an experience that feels good they’ll seek to repeat it. If the experience is bad they’ll do their best to avoid having to endure it again.

Empowering Your Employees
There are basically 3 categories of obstacles that can get in the way of steering your business to this level of customer service:

  1. Work processes that no longer work.
  2. Infrastructure (e.g. computer programs) that doesn’t do what you need it to.
  3. People who won’t get with the program.

(All of this assumes that your service or product itself is top-notch and is not the problem. The what you sell of your business is fine, it’s the how you sell it that needs a polish.)

Your first step is to identify the problem(s). To do this head right to the experts – your employees. Find out what struggles they’re having, what’s getting in the way of their delivering gold star service.

You can also go to the customers, asking them to fill out little survey cards if it’s not too much of a bother. Or even, as the CEO or big boss, talk to some of the customers yourself (remember Dave Neeleman of JetBlue in Chapter 1?).

Added bonus – you can even make these efforts work as marketing. Make it noticeable that you’re putting some serious effort into crafting a better experience

Maybe you have one gigantic problem. Or maybe it’s a thousand-and-one little problems. Either way, you now have new goals and subgoals to add to your calendar.

The big question you always need to be asking is, “How are we making our customers feel?” Those feelings are what they’re going to base their purchases on and whether or not they give you their repeat business.

That feeling is your brand.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

There’s a somewhat infamous story of how the fine people at Ritz-Carlton thought they’d win over extra customer loyalty by spiffing up their bathrooms. They spent truckloads of money on designs and materials including green marble that they imported from Italy.

There was only one big problem – the customers didn’t like it. A survey done after the new installations showed that visitors wanted the bathrooms to be pure white so that they could see the cleanliness of the room.

Whoops.

All they had to do was ask. The same goes for you.

You’re not going to know what your customers want. Not everything, at least. It’s impossible. So do what the Ritz-Carlton people did after the bathroom debacle – put customer satisfaction at the top of your to-do list.

Work to get customer surveys into the “very satisfied” or “extremely satisfied” categories. If they’re not, then work to find out what you can do to bump them up.

Every time an error in customer service is made, even a tiny little one-time thing, mark it down and see what you can do to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Chart successful problem-solving techniques so that all of your employees have a guideline they can follow when a similar problem arises (leaving them wriggle-room for slight differences).

And when one of your employees goes out of their way to really help a customer out celebrate it. That celebration makes everyone feel good and acts as a learning experience for every other employee.

To sum up, the most important words that will ever come out of your mouth as your business’ leader are, “What can I do to help you?” Aimed at either employees or customers, it’s going to make a world of difference.

Ask the question tomorrow. And again next week. And next month and next year. There’s always something you can be doing to make your business experience better.

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