Next time you walk
through a corporate building lobby, take a peek at the badges they
give to outsiders. What does it say? Chances are VISITOR is pasted
across the front of each badge in big, bold letters. Now ask
yourself, what would you rather be, a visitor or a guest? What do you
sense the difference is between them?
In the customer service
business, it happens too often that we treat people like we would
rather not have them around for very long. The terms we find
ourselves using reflect the nature of the problem. We all can relate
to taking care of a guest, assuring their comfort with personalized
treatment. On the other hand the goal with a visitors is to have them
get their job done, make sure they are tracked, escorted and managed.
So why do we do this? We think about things from a delivery centric,
here is what we do and what you get way rather than one than focuses
on the need and benefit of what we offer.
Another example help see
the problem. What term do you use to describe the people you do
business with? If you're like many, the operative word is customer.
Now think about it. What is the difference between being a customer
and a client? Which would you rather be? The fact is we have
transactions with customers while we seek to have relationships with
clients. Something so simple as the terms we use may seem minor to
some but in fact they are reflective of a pattern of viewing your
target audience with indifference or an all-too-casual attitude.
How many times have you
gone to visit a business acquaintance and seen the message board in
the lobby. You know the one that has WELCOME at the top and often has
people's names below. If you have ever had your name put up on such a
board you probably remember the warm feeling it gave you and can
recount where and when it occurred. Now think about the impression it
leaves people when the board is blank as they arrive. "Guess I
don't rate," may be the untold feeling. So why have the board if
you are not going to make sure you leverage it? A little thing, yes,
but the point is that the little things add up to significant impact
on building loyalty.
How many times have you
received an invitation to attend a tradeshow event or stop by a
certain booth ... the week after the show is held? The damage that
does to your reputation as the recipient chuckles tossing it into the
wastebasket cannot be denied. Just because the service is provided
free by tradeshow organizers does not mean marketing communications
people should be oblivious to such folly.
Everyone in the service
business is talking about wanting to build retention and long-term
relationships. It may seem obvious but it is worth repeating. The big
things, like quality, consistency, reliability and value, can build
relationships. But the little thing can easily add up to kill them.
Think about it for yourself. When you switched car dealers, was it
one big problem at the service department that caused the switch, or
was it a number of little things added to one final straw that broke
So think about all the
little things you do to the people you do business with? Not for
them, but to them. Chances are you fall short of conveying the
feelings you want others to sense. Ask yourself if everything you do
follows-through on the promise you wish your service relationship to
deliver? Chances are they miss opportunities in some ways to convey
the image and perception that turns business opportunities into
clients for life. Start to look at the little things. They can keep
your relationships from evaporating before your eyes.
Bob Johnson is Vice
President of Advisory Services at Information Technology Services
Marketing Association, firstname.lastname@example.org