Customer Service, Inside and Out
We talk all the time about our customers. We teach customer service classes, we have people on our
payroll devoted entirely to helping our customers, we put up signs in employee areas to encourage our
staff to take care of the customers: “Put customers first!” “The customer is always right”, and, my
personal favorite, “If you don’t take care of your customers… someone else will!”
Well, in these uncertain economic times, it is even more important than ever to have our antennae up
to receive all of the incoming signals from our customers. They live and work in the same economy we
do, and read and watch the same news, so they are just as anxious and hesitant about spending money
at our company as we are when we go to the grocery store.
So make sure that your employees are spending a little more time just talking to your customers. We
don’t have a crystal ball that can tell us which way the economy is headed, but we can at least stop and
listen. That small act does so much to help create a bond between the employee and the customer. That
loyalty then encourages the customer to return to your company instead of sitting at home stewing
about the state of affairs or going someplace else to blow off steam.
A big part of the equation for your customers is that they feel welcome. By taking the time to create a
welcoming and friendly atmosphere, you can retain your loyal customers, and create new ones from
your first-time visitors.
That being said, let’s not forget our other customers: the employees. We often forget to work on
building loyalty with them. Instead, we sometimes treat their concerns as interruptions to our day,
instead of as a chance to build a stronger relationship with our greatest asset. Hey, we wouldn’t let a
employee get away with being annoyed by a customer asking a question, so why do you think working in
an office gives you that right?
Just as I wrote above, be more in tune with your employees now. They may be struggling at home,
maybe a loved one lost a job or is in some sort of financial hardship, and they might need your support
and guidance. Encourage your employees to make use of your employee assistance program if you have
one. You should also check with your local community colleges or county extension service to see if they
can offer programs on handling stress, maintaining a household budget, or looking for work in a down
Whatever your strategy, this fact remains the same: a company’s performance is a direct reflection of
the leadership. You want a kinder, gentler staff? Be a kinder, gentler management team. When things go
wrong, substandard leaders look out the window to find someone to blame. Great leaders look in the
mirror to see what they can change about themselves to make it better.
Until next time…