tips for quality service
by Carl Tompkins
I will always remember a very powerful statement made by a very knowledgeable
man, Phil Crosby, founder of Crosby and Associates, some years ago in
“One of the reasons businesses fail is that they quit doing the things
that made them successful,” said Crosby, one of the nation’s leading experts
on Total Quality Management (TQM).
The majority of the things that make companies successful are the most
basic things—things that are commonsense to a new business owner or manager.
Categorically, businesses pay a lot of attention to customers around the
time of their inception.
They expend a great deal of energy in serving customers and reach out
by providing special little things, all aimed at differentiating themselves.
Attention to the Common
It is the attention to small, seemingly insignificant, details of serving
customers that has the greatest influence on their buying decisions and
brand loyalty. Consider how basic mere attitude is in the scheme of servicing
a customer. According to a study completed by the Technical Assistance
Research Program (TARP) in Washington, D.C., a number of years ago, 67
percent of consumers don’t return to a business because of a perceived
attitude of indifference expressed by an employee. Are you in need of
any further proof?
What causes companies to drift away from these basic activities? Following
is a list of possible causes:
1. Size of the company: Companies grow from their early-on success
and become departmentalized. The people that began the business become
far-removed from the public they serve. As a result, they lose touch with
customers and are no longer in a position to conduct those behaviors and
activities that once made them successful. They assume that those people
in the lower positions are doing so. If the top of the organization does
not apply a conscious effort regularly to make sure that the basics are
maintained, they won’t be.
2. Distractions: As a business grows, so do assignments. More
business means more people and more people mean more things to do to manage
the business. I can’t begin to tell you how often I’ve heard people say,
“You remember when things used to be so much easier?” Multi-tasking is
common and always will pose the challenge of distracting employees from
their number-one job, focusing on the customer.
3. Environment: The environment that exists within a corporation
will be passed on to all customers outside of a corporation. A lack of
training, a lack of communications, no method of recognition or caring
for employees, and a poor working environment breeds contempt for a company
by its employees.
4. Automation: We forever will be in the people business, yet
companies constantly are drawn into practices that eliminate face-to-face
encounters. We buy groceries in a self-checkout line, shop online, text
instead of talk, etc. Each form of automation eliminates another opportunity
to best serve people.
of the things that make companies successful are the most basic things.”
Following are some simple examples, basic activities and courtesies that
are nothing short of basic brilliance. Each can capture the attention
of customers as well as their purchases:
• A warm and sincere greeting when the customer enters the building;
• A glass of water or cup of coffee as the customer waits to be served;
• A follow-up phone call to make sure that the customer had a positive
• A free desert as a token of appreciation for the lovely selection of
meals the customer purchased;
• The provision of your name and phone number for future needs;
• Showing the customer where something is instead of telling him;
• Displaying patience and interest in hearing the customer’s story;
• Leaving a rose on the front seat of the car after finishing a job;
• A note of thanks (not an email);
• A call to the customer to wish him a happy birthday;
• A handwritten personal note of thanks and best wishes at the bottom
of an invoice; and
• Immediate attention.
It most often is the little things that cost the least and mean the most.
These steal the customer’s heart, and that is something money cannot buy.
Carl Tompkins is the global marketing resources manager for SIKA
Corp. in Madison Heights, Mich. He is based in Spokane, Wash.
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