A blessing in disguise

Did your company ever lose a customer for what you thought was no apparent reason? Did you stew over it, gnash your teeth, decide to pick yourself up and look for a new client to replace the lost one – and after looking at the lost customer’s history, you found that he or she was a drain on your company’s energy system?

Well, friends, it happens to all of us at one time or another, and what a surprise when we discover how much we’ll save in employee time and effort by not handholding the needy but unprofitable customer. Think of how this blessing in disguise has paved the way for your company to look for ways to show your good customers that you appreciate their business.

One of our business friends recently lost one of those “waste lots of time, spend little money” customers. After they made sure that they had done nothing wrong, they held an old-fashioned post-mortem session and buried the corpse of that customer’s file. Then they began planning ways to “romance” and take even better care of good clients, including:

  • Follow-up. As necessary as this is, the process sometimes gets overlooked. Make non-selling follow-up calls.
  • Treat clients like lifetime partners.
  • Never let a challenge from a previous customer affect the interaction with the current client. Keep attention focused where it belongs.
  • Give customers a couple of options … never too many.
  • Once an order is placed, make sure there’s no chance for errors.
  • The sooner the customer gets a reward for buying, the sooner her or she will buy again.
  • Pay attention to what “hits you between the eyes.” In other words, watch the customer’s body language to make sure he or she is happy with the work provided. If customers walk out unhappy, they will tell a few others about the experience.
  • Turn clients into champions or goodwill ambassadors for the company. Ask for referrals. Reward for referrals. Keep records of the referrals. Keep in touch. Say “thank you” often. Good customer service is really all about people!

Recently, I went to pick up dinner at a national fast-food restaurant chain. I was appalled at how long it took for the man on register duty to wake up and realize he had a live customer in front of him. He spent time visiting with two cohorts behind the food prep counter, complaining about someone who didn’t show up for work.


When he finally spied me, his attitude was terrible, as though I’d interrupted a very important conversation. I did order and get our dinner. There was a mistake that got corrected. I felt unappreciated as a customer. I walked out, got in our car, and immediately told my husband, Dave, “We’re crossing this place off our list.” What do you think the owner/manager of that fast-food place would think and/or do if he or she had heard my comments? Put a better training program in place, I hope.

Businesses sometimes get only one chance to make a customer feel right. Training frontline teams to handle every request, every demand, every need with full attention and full focus on the client will show customers that your company is a quality place to do business.

No need to wait for a “blessing in disguise” to practice quality customer care. The bottom line in dealing with customers is that if they’re happy, they come back … if they’re not, they won’t. Simple, isn’t it?

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