How Are You Showing Up To Your Customers?

By Sharon Worsley

Even if I am just walking down the street, going into businesses or sitting on a subway, I am always on the lookout for how businesses are ‘showing up’ to their clients or prospective clients. I see too many wasted business opportunities around me to not just ‘wow’ a client, but to just give a decent level of service.

The challenge is that too many clients have accepted mediocre service for so long and consider it to be good (acceptable) service, that I feel standards of what great service is has declined over the years.

As a result of the decline in service many business owners do not spend much time, if at all, considering how their company is being perceived by the outside world. They run the risk of losing their clients to competitors and then wonder why their business is not doing as well as before.

Having worked in Sydney, Australia many years ago for one of the best airlines in the world at the time (Qantas), we were constantly measured on how we provided customer service to our passengers. From the moment someone walked into a local travel centre to book their trip to the moment they got off the plane at their destination, we (all of the employees – no matter what department) were all about the experience. In fact, when someone walked down the street in a Qantas uniform, even if they were not a member of a flight crew, people would stop and look at you, because working for that company at that time meant something to be proud of. That something was service excellence and experience.

Experience is a word I find quite lacking in businesses these days, and that is unfortunate. I don’t even find many companies looking at the quality control of their client’s experience with their company, product and/or service.

One of the first things to do is examine the experience the business has provided to past, existing and potential clients. It is often a wake-up call to the owner, who had not realized how they were being perceived.

Some of you might wonder why a business would be concerned with a past client and their experience. I would reply with questions like “why are they no longer your client?” Also “what if they could refer you more business, which is less expensive than always looking for new clients?”

Recently I went in to visit my local coffee shop – a large name-brand franchise – on my way home. This location has been challenged over the last several months due to the construction of a subway system underneath. As such, for the next few years that area is going to see a reduction of customers walking by, due to a portion of the street corner being blocked off on two sides, with construction equipment and wire fences in front of this store’s location.

If I was the franchise owner I would be very concerned, but at the same time make sure that each customer that enters my store has a great experience despite the challenge in reaching the front door due to the construction. It seems that this is a low – or no – priority for this store. There is a city-owned garbage container right outside the front door.

Due to construction, the city put a black plastic cover over the container, so that it cannot be used. This is because they would not be able to come up alongside it to empty it periodically. However, the people travelling along this sidewalk don’t appear to care about this and still throw their garbage, including coffee cups from this establishment on and around the container.

Now, you might think… what does this have to do with this coffee shop? They are not responsible for the litter in the area. You are absolutely right; they’re not responsible for cleaning it up. However, a savvy business owner would see the possible side effects of having such a sight right outside the front door. They might then instruct their staff that while they are cleaning out the garbage containers inside the store that they would also now be responsible to ensure that there is no garbage outside the container or around their front door.

What would it really involve to have this litter taken care of? Not a lot more work than the employees should be doing in keeping the inside of the store well maintained. And just imagine over time how much more garbage is going to pile up in this area if no-one removes it.

Next door to the coffee shop is a major Canadian bank, whose front door is in close proximity to the front door of the coffee shop. Even in the bank’s case, it would be wise to arrange to have the nightly cleaners take the garbage away because people have to travel that route to get to the bank, which is situated on the corner of the street under construction. Business might already be suffering because due to accessibility on just one side of a four-way stop. Their three other banking competitors are set up nearby without the construction causing a challenge for people to enter their premises, so this should be an easy decision – yet it doesn’t seem to be.

Back to the coffee shop: To enter their business there are accessible buttons that operate the doors for the elderly and disabled. The button on the outside door has been missing for several months, yet it has not been fixed. At the very least, what would it take for the store management to go to the local printer, across the street and have a laminated sign made and then hung above the missing button to advise patrons that they are working on replacing the button and apologize for any inconvenience caused?

To some of you this may seem like just a small thing, but do you really want to risk showing a lack of respect or importance to your clients and especially those who need to use these buttons?

What I see in many businesses is that they don’t really have a set of standards for how they run their business, especially for the seemingly small things. They let these little things like a missing accessibility door button or garbage piling up right outside their front door, eat away at their reputation with their clients, without considering how this will eventually affect their bottom line.

Points to Ponder:

• Where in your business right now should you be examining how you are potentially showing up to your clients?

• What types of upgrades or standards are needed immediately in your business?

• Do you have a code of standards for your business, and are all your employees acting upon them?

Sharon Worsley, The Business Development Ninja™ is the creator of the R7 System™ to Flood Your Business With Clients Today, Tomorrow and Beyond, helping businesses to ‘Wake Up, Shake Up, and Show Up’. To learn more, please go to www.sharonworsley.com

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