Have you ever thought after going shopping about the way you experienced customer care in various outlets? Because it is one of the areas that we address during some training programmes our company conducts, I do so on a regular basis. Most of the expatriates living in the region have probably experienced service of any kind in different parts of the world and can truly say that they are more or less able to make comparisons. The first thing I notice when visiting shops is the overall attitude of staff. A lot of employees convey with their body language a single clear message: We do not like to be here! I can hardly call that inviting and it is surely not encouraging people spending time and money with them. Secondly, it is remarkable to learn that the general level of product knowledge is absolutely appalling. Thirdly, as a potential customer you might often feel salespeople are only interested in your credit card and couldn't care less about anything beyond that. These observations are naturally not applicable in all cases and surely not in the organizations where you, the reader of this article, are working. Nor do they reflect your attitude, knowledge or manner you deal with your customers...!
Add to this elements lack of hygiene, chewing gum or the phenomena of employees entertaining each other while ignoring potential buyers. We call this buyers' paradise? I wonder if they realize who is paying their salaries and why traffic in the shop decreased over the years. Finding reasons for 'slow business' is often done in a much more creative manner, with such strong passion and high levels of energy that one could imagine what would happen if that energy was applied to serve a constructive cause. Improving this is not as difficult as it might appear. We are talking mainly about changing attitude here. Solving it at the root means hiring the right people. Professional selection based on skills, ability and attitude. Product knowledge can be developed; regular training sessions conducted by own capable trainers or facilitated by external professional parties are part of the modern business game. Developing existing staff and 'unlearning' bad attitude often requires more effort and serious management involvement. Believe me it is worth the effort. Your organization can only become a long-term winner if the organizational attitude becomes one that subscribes to building long-term relationship with your client base. Having the right attitude, sound knowledge and continuous development will make customers come to you instead of your competition. Customers impressed with the 'difference' you make in their life will spread the news and will advice others to 'get in partnership' with you as well. Fail to do so and be prepared spending more energy discussing why we do not get the business, add to this discussion the question why company XYZ is doing so much better lately... And you will most probably come to the conclusion that it must be their lower prices... Dream on!
When visiting a supermarket this week, my wife and me had a hard time at the check out counter. Four of the employees were discussing a financial transaction between them that had, apparently caused a problem. Messages were exchanged at a very high sound level and repeated over and over. By the way we were waiting and waiting and not part of the scene nor part of the problem. Ignored yes, impressed with this level of simple customer service: not a bit. In this example the element of product knowledge was not even part of the frustration. Attitude can be enough to make anyone feel extremely uncomfortable. Groceries we need to buy regularly and buying those we generally do not expect it being part of our most memorable shopping experiences. Given the choice however, while buying any other product and or service we would like to feel comfortable, well served and convinced of our correct choice. Try making the difference and become part of the discussion within your competitors' organization questioning why you are doing so much better. I wish you lots of sound business!

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