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No Walk In The Park

Good customer service remains the key to growing business in a poor economy.

At my age few things should catch me by surprise, yet a week seldom passes when I don’t catch myself scratching my head in wonderment. Two such occurrences have prompted the following thoughts. I think you will see the relationship.

At the conclusion of a recent phone seminar, I challenged my audience to contact a prospect or current client to simply thank that person for his or her friendship and business. To me, this is an example of customer service at its best. I will never know how many of the 150 people on the call heeded my suggestion, but I do know of two who did as I recommended.

I know this because both of them shared their experience with me in emails. Here’s where the first head-scratch kicked in. The assignment called for a sincere “thank you” and nothing more. In both instances, the senders used some form of apologetic language for “bothering” the recipient. One used the word “gushy” but decided to say “thank you” anyway. The other excused herself for bothering the reader before she said “thank you.”

Since when has it come to the point when a sincere thank you requires an apology or having to overcome the fear that you’re sounding too syrupy? The sad answer is that we fell out of the practice of saying thank you to our prospects and loved ones some years ago. This is a sad commentary, if not downright pathetic.

As for apologizing, you need not entertain the thought as long as your feelings are sincere. If you say what you came to say and don’t belabor the point, you will always be welcome in your client’s office, home or email box. As for sounding “gushy,” people are very similar to our canine friends when it comes to detecting fear, insecurity and BS. Say what’s in your heart, and then have a nice day.

The second example challenging my understanding of how the real world works came as I was studying the workshops being offered at a popular industry conference. The topics were very interesting in each and every case. I found myself having a tough time deciding which of the 10 workshops to attend. And that’s when it hit me like a ton of bricks. Of all the cool topics promoted for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, there was one—and only one—that was sold out.

How could this be? Right in front of me was a piece of marketing research that only high-priced marketing gurus (like me) are trained to spot and properly interpret. I heard myself asking, “Could this be the topic for future speaking engagements? Have I stumbled upon the Rosetta Stone in this simple conference brochure?”

The description of the only training session that was sold out did not include the words “negotiation,” “sales,” “presentation skills” “social media” or “business development.” What it did include were the words “customer” and “service.” I found this to be absolutely incredible.

In a whacked-out economy and an over-communicated world, when (TMI) too much Internet information is the norm, where large and respected organizations are falling from grace, where we are all victims of too many “shoulds” and not enough “dids,” the only training session that was sold out was the one that was reintroducing us to saying “please” and “thank you” to our valued customers.

In 90 minutes, somebody was going to remind seminar participants that it’s not polite to bite the hand that feeds them. In other words, the workshop facilitator was going to recommend that we all start treating our customers like dogs, who have the sensitivity to appreciate honesty and loyalty. Is this the information that needs to be presented to result in a sold-out workshop? Apparently the answer was and is “yes.”

Do travel agents still need to be told (reminded) that this is still the sure-fire way to run their businesses? Once again, the answer is “yes.” In a time of anxiety and stress, doubt and fear, these nuggets and reminders definitely do hold water. The fact that so many people in our industry are still flocking to be reminded about the obvious speaks volumes, sung to the tune of “sold out”!

I hope those lucky enough to gain entry into this session will take copious notes and then practice what they learn. Maybe that way, when it comes time to register next year, there will be plenty of room in the Customer Service Seminar. So starting today, jump on the bandwagon. Start treating your customers like dogs.


Mike Marchev Mike Marchev has plenty of stories, strategies and tactics to keep you on top of your game.
Mike will be conducting his 5th annual Travel Sales & Marketing Business Development Cruise, sailing the Freedom of The Seas from Ft. Lauderdale. Email him at mike@mikemarchev.com for complete details. Five cabins are still available.
Mike’s daily column is made possible by AmaWaterways.

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