The following story is related to my particular business field, but you will see how it relates to all businesses. After location, marketing, and a business plan, our customer service is what keeps repeat business coming back for more. If you don’t value your repeat business, your competition will.
If you have a strong customer service staff, good ethical standards, and a mission statement based upon helping the community, you will see your competition send customers to you. They don’t do it on purpose, but by grooming an adversarial relationship, these businesses send abused customers seeking refuge, where they are treated fairly.
Recently, I had a prospective family visit us for an initial interview. They were interested in martial arts classes, but looked at Yoga on the premises as a bonus. This family had been abused by their sensei (karate teacher), and they were seeking some gentle guidance. They were still studying with their current sensei, but not sure if they wanted to stay for anymore abuse.
One of the things they found at our center is a mission statement that all of my family and staff live by. They were so impressed, that one of their children went back to ask if their current martial arts school had one. Upon asking this question, the sensei told this student to do 1000 push ups.
Needless to say, that family joined our center shortly afterward. The above-described business doesn’t see the true worth of good paying repeat business. In fact, this type of business is working hard to make “service minded" competitors look good.
Now, what does this have to do with your business? This has everything to do with all of our businesses and your job security. How often do you see customers mistreated by banks, restaurants, and department stores? This occurs far too often, and the attitude starts at the top of every organization.
When you send your customers to your competitors, you might as well advertise for them too. Some customer service departments have the same atmosphere as a collection agency. The customers are visualized as the enemy and treated like prisoners without a choice.
If this sounds like your customer service department, you may find yourself out of business. For decision makers, the action is clear: Clean up your customer service or be prepared for extinction. For employees who don’t have a say in the decisions, be prepared to “jump ship, " if you see customers making a mass exodus out the door.
“The writing is on the wall, " when we forget who is really in charge. Your real “boss" is the customer. That’s who pays your salary, gets you a bonus, sends you on vacation, and helps you get your kids through college. To thrive in any economy, we must promote a helpful product or service. Otherwise, you might as well give up promoting, advertising, and marketing, all together. Customer service exists to “close the back door, " not by force, but by listening to suggestions and establishing a common bond with your existing customers.
Paul Jerard is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center, in North Providence, RI. He has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995. He is a master instructor of martial arts, with multiple Black Belts, four martial arts teaching credentials, and was recently inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame. He teaches Yoga, martial arts, and fitness to children, adults, and seniors in the greater Providence area. Recently he wrote: Is Running a Yoga Business Right for You? For Yoga students, who may be considering a new career as a Yoga teacher. http://www.yoga-teacher-training.org/index.html