Posts Tagged ‘customer service’


“Is your business a jerk?” or “How to double your referrals in 30 days.”

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

What difference would it make to your business if thirty days from now you were getting twice as many referrals as you are today? In this post, I’m going to tell you how to make that happen. But first, a question:

Who are you more likely to refer a friend to, someone you really like or someone who’s a jerk? The answer is obvious: You refer the person you like. And therein lies the key to doubling your referrals: Don’t be a jerk.

That’s great news,” you say, “because we’re NOT jerks!”

Don’t be so sure. From the customer’s perspective, most businesses are. They’re self-absorbed, uncaring, and greedy.

But we’re not like that,” you protest. “We really do care! How could people possibly think that?

Easy. Pretend I’m your customer. Here are some common experiences I have of your business:

- Your website talks about your “Amazing!” products, services, and credentials rather than my problems.
- You talk to me in terms I don’t understand.
- You try to sell me things without finding out what I really want and need.
- I’m feeling nervous, unsure, frightened or frustrated but you don’t notice or care.
- When I call or come to your office it feels like I’m putting you out.
- You’re always trying to sell me something more.

See? Self-absorbed. Uncaring. Greedy. In other words, your business is a jerk. Sorry. No wonder you’re not getting more referrals!

What’s really going on here is that your words and actions are sending major “disconnect” messages to your customers. The three messages people need to “hear” in order to feel connected to you are, I respect you; I understand you; I care about you. But the behaviors above send the opposite messages.

Here’s a simple solution – and this is the key to doubling your referrals:

1) Think through every interaction/experience your customers have with your company.

2) For each one, ask yourself these questions:

- Are my words and actions sending the messages, respect, understand, care?
- If not, what can I do differently to send those messages?

3) Do whatever you come up with.

4) Repeat.

Evaluating your customer’s experience from the respect/understand/care perspective will transform your business. Customers will actually like you (your business) – and maybe even love you – rather than thinking you’re a jerk. Most important, they’ll start telling their friends. Voila!  You’ll double your referrals – and then some!

For the next thirty days, take a good look at all the messages your business sends. Cut out any disconnects. Start sending the three connecting messages. Thirty days from now your business will be operating at a whole new level.

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Do you make this common communication mistake? (Most people do)

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

Ever get abrupt, bottom-line emails like this?

Hey. There was a problem with those numbers from Tuesday’s meeting. We need to get this straightened out right away. Can you send me the original files so I can take a look? Thanks. DL

This sort of cold, dry communication is very common, especially at work. And it might not seem that bad at first glance, but from my perspective, it’s a communication mistake. Here’s why:

1) It’s a disconnect. Whenever we interact with someone, if we don’t make some sort of human connection, the message it sends is, “I don’t care about you,” which is about the worst message of all for being heard.

2) It diminishes our effectiveness over the long term. Once someone suspects we don’t care about them, they deal with us in a completely different way. They’re guarded, suspicious, much less cooperative. In other words, our influence and impact go out the window. And someone without influence and impact with others is simply not going to be successful.

3) It’s the opposite of what works. In order to be heard, people first need to be open to what we have to say. “Connect, then communicate” is the key to being heard, not the other way around.

The solution? Lead with the Relationship. Meaning, talk to the other person as a person before you get into all the the details and information.


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You Can’t Take It Back

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Ever said something you wish you could take back? Me too. Here’s one from 25 years ago. (It’s not that I have to go back that far to find an example. Just to find one that doesn’t still hurt.) :-)

Back then, I was on the road full-time playing music, and had a band of my own, called, originally enough, The David Levin Band. We played a lot of places in the middle of nowhere and had a good bit of fun doing it. (A sad sort of fun, in retrospect. But hey, we were young!) I should also say that I wasn’t much of a band leader. In those days, I was generally more interested in hanging out with my buddies than running a business. But during one particular band meeting I apparently felt some sudden misguided impulse to take charge or something because I distinctly remember saying to the band, “Guys, this is not a democracy!”

Twenty-five years later, I’m still paying for it.

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Got a problem with someone? Try saying, “I’m sorry.”

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Here’s something you can take to the bank: If you’re having some sort of trouble with someone—conflict, tension, bad blood, whatever—nothing gets things back on track like a good old-fashioned apology.

“But I didn’t do anything wrong!” you say, “It wasn’t my fault.”

I understand. And I didn’t say it was. But who’s at fault is not the point. The point is that the relationship has gone bad, and that’s no good for either of you.

Besides, I’m not saying you should apologize for whatever it is you’re disagreeing about. In fact, doing so might do more harm than good. The most important thing here is that whatever you say has to be authentic and heartfelt. Apologizing for something that you didn’t actually do is likely to be neither. And it could even be seen as being manipulative, which is even worse.

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8 beers

Friday, May 15th, 2009

I had an interesting experience at my neighborhood grocery store the other day.  I was walking down the soda aisle, looking for my favorite caffeinated beverage (Coke Zero), when I passed a store employee stocking the shelves.  As he worked, he was also talking on a cell phone.  “Yeah,” I heard him laugh, ”especially after 8 beers!”  I don’t know who he was talking to, but my impression was that it was a personal call.  The rest of his conversation faded from hearing as I walked on.

The good news, I suppose, was that he seemed to be enjoying himself.  But enjoying your work is one thing.  Enjoying yourself at work is something else entirely, and not necessarily a good thing, at least from an employer’s perspective.  And by the way, this was not a teenager talking, if you’re wondering.  If I had to guess, I’d put him in his late 30s to early 40s.  Also, let me say that I have no problem with people drinking, in general.  (Though 8 beers does sound a bit excessive.)  My concern is with the message his conversation sends to me as a customer, and the questions it raises in my mind.  Does he have a drinking problem?  Should I be concerned about him?  Is he drunk right now?  Does management know?  Is this some sort of drink-friendly grocer?  They do seem chipper.  Is there something else going on?  Are other staff members drunk too?

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The problem with “Not a problem.”

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

This is a pet peeve of mine, but please don’t say, “Not a problem.”  And this is not just me being cranky.  It’s wrong.  Okay, it’s not always wrong.  There are times when not a problem makes sense.  When might that be?  Well, when perhaps it was a problem—when the request might have been an imposition.  Say I ask you to do me a favor, for example.  Me:  “I know you’re busy, but could you possibly help me out with this?”  You:  “Sure thing. Not a problem.”  See?  There it makes sense.  My request might have been an imposition, but you’re saying it’s not.  Good.

When does it not make sense?  Pretty much anytime other than that.  For instance,  I’m trying to order a pizza.  They put me on hold.  It’s taking forever.  My life is passing before my eyes, it’s taking so long.  Finally, they come back on:  “Can I help you?”

“I’d like to order a pizza for delivery.”

“Not a problem.”

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