Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What's the Difference Between Customer Service and Customer Attention?
I've always had an issue with business people and businesses that believe customer service is something you provide AFTER a sale, AFTER receiving a complaint, or AFTER a drop in revenues. In fact, I dislike the phrase customer service because it doesn't have a universally accepted meaning--not any more.

What's service anyway? Webster says it's the act of serving. Yep. Clear as mud. Webster then goes on to say that the verb serve means: to be of use, to prove adequate or satisfactory, to wait on customers, to furnish or supply with something needed or desired, to answer the needs of, and several other things.

Kind of milquetoasty, eh? Sure, customer service representatives are of use--some to a greater (or lesser) degree than others. What are the standards? I really hate the description, to prove adequate or satisfactory. I don't know about you, but I don't want to just squeak by in life. I want to excel, be special, make a difference, and stand out. Ordinary is not an adjective I'd like appearing before my name in a sentence. To wait on customers--that's a good one. Some people think that if they smile when a customer walks in the door, their face will break in half. Or that if they answer the phone with a cheery tone of voice the caller will be more inclined to chat or make a request.The remaining examples (to furnish or supply with something needed or desired and to answer the needs of) are more in line with my personal definition simply because they focus on the customer.

As a customer, when I walk into a place of business, I want someone to acknowledge my arrival. If I call on the phone, I'd like a human being to answer. Of course, most businesses and professionals don't care what you or I want or, if they do, they care more about conducting business in a fashion that generates income and is convenient for them. After all, business is business, it's not philanthropy, right? Businesses exist to earn $$ for the people who have ownership interest in them.

I can't help but believe, however, that not a single business (or occupation) would exist if it weren't for the customers and clients who provide the $$ coming in. Shouldn't the people responsible for the INFLUX of money be more important than anyone else? Shouldn't they be appreciated/ Don't the people providing the influx of money deserve ATTENTION instead of SERVICE? And don't they deserve the type of attention they want how and when they want it?

Sure, some customers are a pain in the neck. But you don't have to begin or continue a relationship with any customer (or vendor or supplier, for that matter) if you don't want to. If you want to KEEP a customer, however, you have to treat him or her fairly, kindly, and as if you care. Translation: providing them with attention how and when they want it.

Here's a link to a terrific online article about folks who provide the pinnacle of customer attention--it's called The Secret to Great Customer Service.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

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