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Good Customer Relations: Why Try?

Good Customer Relations: Why Try?

Jonathan Farrington

“Why should I be nice to someone who is yelling at me?” says one of your people.

Well, that is not an unreasonable question. Let’s try to understand the psychology of people who grumble – or worse, complain.

Believe it: For most people (apart from a psychotic few), complaining is a very stressful thing to do. Apart from whether the problem itself has made the customer angry, having to pump themselves up enough emotionally to have a “confrontation” makes people short-tempered. So people dealing with customers must expect them to be upset and angry.

Let’s analyze the language. The customer says, “That is not good enough”—quite probably with a few expletives thrown in for good measure.

Now, the person handling the call probably did not cause the problem themselves; someone else did. Why take the blame for that? Well, because the person handling the call is part of the team and happens to be the one taking the call.

The drive for continuous improvement will come from your customers if you let it and if people’s arrogance does not get in the way. Believe me, the customer is an expert in your business. They may not know how to make grommets or how to merchandise goods or how to write software, but they do know what they want from you.

Imagine them saying, “As customers, we do not want it your way; we want it the way that suits us. And we will tell you, if you want to listen, and providing we see you want to do something about it.”

One of the problems with employees in many companies is that they just do not want to be told anything, especially by a customer.

No one’s going to get anywhere with customer relations until they recognize that customers are valued assets, not dumb milk cows for money.

What’s the Lesson?

Customer relations is a strategic understanding, not a departmental name. Most people in most companies don’t think about their responsibility for developing good customer relations, because they simply do not see it as their “job.”

The trouble is that you cannot see the cost from a simple item on the profit-and-loss sheet. Most of it is hidden in the cost of losing business and winning new business. Existing customers cost much less to keep than new customers cost to win.

And you? Can you truthfully say in your heart of hearts that you believe in the value and need for everyone in the business to help to build good customer relations? If not, then watch out for the competitor who will figure that out first — or the person competing for your job who knows that is how it’s done.

Customer relations is that serious.