October 1st through the 5th is National Customer Service Week. It was established by the International Customer Service Association (ICSA) in 1984 and proclaimed a national event by the U.S. Congress in 1992 John Kressaty, ICSA Past President says, “There are two main purposes of National Customer Service Week. It lets you recognize the job that your customer service professionals do 52 weeks a year. The other purpose is to get the message across a wide range of business, government and industry that customer service is very important along with bottom line profit in running a business.”
Most companies, managers, and executives in business do not understand the value of their customer service associates and do not even attempt to place a dollar amount on the worth of one individual versus another. However, all customer associates are not equal, neither are most people who work outside of the customer service environment. If companies tried to determine the ROI for each associate, they could not only ascertain their true worth, but could better compensate and retain excellent associates, and have much higher revenues and profits.
When I discover a very special representative, I seek out their manager to communicate my delight. In most cases, the managers are indifferent at best and in many cases become arrogant that I have “meddled” in how they run their department, store or business, even when I am trying to communicate a compliment. After speaking to one General Manager of a local gym on how special Fay was at the front desk, Fay told me two days later that her hours were cut. I’m sure my recent conversation had nothing to do with the structure of her hours, but I was still totally dumbfounded about why this company would reduce the hours of someone who was so welcoming, nice, and passionate about customers, even at 5:30 AM!
Executives and business owners need to realize that representatives are worth a great deal to an organization’s success. Providing free pizza’s at lunch, bagels and coffee in the morning and sending their associates home with a free goodie bag of company products are nice gestures, but don’t go far enough to reward superior customer service performance. Every associate has a unique ROI.
In July 2007, Ken Blanchard and Barbara Glanz told the story of Johnny the Bagger. Johnny had listened to one of Barbara’s sessions and came up with an idea of how he, who had Down Syndrome, could positively impact the lives of his customers by including his thought of the day in their grocery bag. Customers would wait on long lines just to see Johnny, to get that welcoming smile and obtain his writing for the day. I can assure you that when others who may have not been regular shoppers heard of Johnny, they too gave their business to Johnny’s place of business instead of other food markets.
In every business, the story may not be as dramatic or impactful as Johnny the Bagger, but every business has representatives who are more welcoming, more engaging, and more interested in the customer as a person first, customer second than others.
A specific representative at one of your checkout counters, a telephone associate or your afternoon receptionist may be responsible for more repeat customers than others. Make sure that every day of the year you consider the dollar value of each associate before those associates leave and go to work your nearest competitor.
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