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On Customer Service, Do Your Employees Really Hear You?

By James McEntire


Knowing my passion for excellent customer service, my neighbor shared his recent service experience with me.

He took his white truck in to be serviced. When he dropped the truck off, the service adviser was busy on his computer. He looked up, told him to leave the keys, and he would call when it was finished. The service adviser gave my neighbor the impression this was an interruption in his morning work.

My neighbor’s secretary picked the truck up when the service was completed.

On Monday morning, as my neighbor approached his truck, he stopped in his tracks. There was a message from the mechanic who worked on the truck.

On the bottom of the door of his white truck were four large, greasy, oily handprints the mechanic had left. On the other side of the truck, in case he missed seeing the driver’s side, he left an identical set of handprints. How thoughtful. (Remember when your kids brought home a white sheet of paper with multicolored handprints on it saying, “I love you”? This is the less-lovable version of that.)

What do you think my neighbor’s impression was? The same as yours if this was your vehicle. Lousy service.

As a business owner, you decide what the customers say about your product or service to the world. The customers can say:

“It is OK,” and they will tell no one.

“It is lousy,” and they will tell everyone.

“It is great,” and they will tell many.

If you were to look at the website of this business or watch its ads, you would hear about how it takes care of customers. My guess would be the business spends more than $20,000 a year to build a loyal customer base.

Do you think there is a disconnect from what the ad says and what the employees actually do? There is a big disconnect.

What about your business? Are you telling customers one thing and your employees are actually doing something else? When customers feel you and your people don’t care, the customer has no loyalty to you. If there is no loyalty, the customer goes directly to whoever has the lowest price. As a business, there is no profit for you at the lowest price.         In my years of sales training with hundreds of employees, I have found the majority of employees want to do a good job — yet they need direction and training. What can you and this particular service business do to fix these disconnects?

1. Bring your people together and look at all of your marketing and advertising. What is it saying? Ask how your customers want to be treated. Make a list of the answers. Explain to your employees why this is important to them and the customers. Ask them to share times when they have experienced lousy service and how that made them feel. Would they take their business elsewhere?

2. With their input, set up written procedures to give customers great experiences that will bring them back and build customer loyalty. Customer loyalty equals additional profits.

3. When customers enter the work area, all employees should stop what they are doing, give them a smile, a warm friendly hello, and see how they can help them.

4. Visit with your customers. Ask them how they viewed the service/sales process and describe the experience they had with your employees. How they answer will indicate how well you and your employees are doing.

5. Now inspect what you expect. As the boss, visit with customers and your employees to make sure the procedures agreed upon are being followed.

Remember, as the owner, you decide what the customers say about you — OK, lousy, or great.


James McEntire is a business and sales coach. Contact him at or (315) 225-3536. 




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