Today, July 19 is Get to Know Your Customers Day, a great day to put ourselves into our customers' shoes so we can provide the best possible customer service.
"Putting the customer first," of course, is a mantra we've all heard time and again.
But what does it really mean?
Well, it means customer empathy, putting yourself into your customer's shoes and getting out of your own realm and into your customer's.
So how do we do that??
Well, first of all, we can visualize our customers approaching our front door - whether we have a brick-and-mortar or online store. What does our business look like. It is attractive? Is it the sort of place we visualize patronizing? Is it the sort of place we would be pleased and proud to have others see us patronize?
Second, how are we greeted at the front door. Does the person act as though he or she wants our business? And think of it this way. Even if that front-line person is the lowest-paid in your organization, to the potential customer, that person IS your organization.
One CEO once said that everyone in the company represented the company - all the way from himself to the person watering the plants near the front door. To most people, it's that person watering the plants that represents the company - NOT the CEO.
What sort of customer experience does your customer have. Note that we're not saying what sort of customer experience do you convey. Because that's not the point. It's the experience your customer has - real or imagined - that's important. Not the experience you think you're conveying.
Do you treat the customer as the person giving the service and yourself as the person receiving it? Well, that's exactly the sort of feeling many customers get.
When one customer was treated very rudely by a motel auditor (a few states away), he promptly crumpled up his motel registration, and despite the fact he was already exhausted, drove several hundred miles and found a motel at exactly the same price - and with far better accommodations. Are you sending your customers down the road to someone else?
So let's say you give good customer service - excellent, even. So how low should that excellent customer service last. Until the bill's presented?
Actually, it should last until well after the customer leaves. One fine-dining establishment sends customers a complimentary voucher good for the patron's next visit along with their thanks.
Finally, we need to remember that the customer experience we give others is like a pebble tossed into a pond. It sends ripples - sometimes far wider than we might think.
A person might be treated rudely by one or two people in a town. Forever after, that customer might tell others the entire community is rude.
We can improve the customer experience for others - and our own bottom line - by putting ourselves in our customers' shoes and striving to provide the best service possible.
If nothing else, ultimately we're doing it for ourselves.