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Weekly Message From Margo DeGange - "One Of Our Ill-Mannered Associates Will Be With You Shortly."

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Call it customer care, customer service, customer connection, or customer love. We can’t approach this topic too often. Regardless of the name, it’s the heart and soul of your business. Without it there are only waning sales, reduced profits, angry vendors, and mortgages that don’t get paid. No one gets away with bad customer service for long.

Today, all before 1pm, I make a number of important calls to four different businesses that were well-known names and very "reputable" companies. In each instance (multiple calls to some of them), as I waited for a company representative to assist me, I heard a nice pie-in-the-sky phone-hold message with lovely music in the background, and a confident and

friendly pre-recorded voice bragging about how much their customers mean to them. One went so far as to say "our customers are the lifeline of our business".

It was all great until a representative from the company (take your pick) got on the phone. From their end, there was no service, no patience, no friendly demeanor, no customer care or support, no connection with me, and positively certainly not a lick of going the extra mile for the customer.

What I did get were uninspired, monotone, almost lifeless voices of people who must hate their jobs and who work for companies that must not love their customers very much (since they allow this). On my end, I didn’t get even the slightest feeling that I was a valued asset or an individual whose business was appreciated, even a little. I certainly was not treated as if I were the "lifeline" of the business. I got treated like goop, poo, crap, by all of them (oh, and I was nice). I was an inconvenience to them, it was clear. This kind of interaction is frustrating at best and maddening at worst. I am getting to where I cannot stand doing business with most companies anymore.

I was definitely not impressed with how long I had to wait on hold for anti-service, or with how many ridiculous "if you’d like to" options I had to wade through on their elaborate phone systems to get to the choice I actually needed (which was customer service and which should have been the first choice offered. I think they can just delete "If you are calling to do a fundraiser…"). By the way, these lengthy monologues are strategically implemented tactics to get people to hang up so they do not have to deal with them.

Experiences like this are not only common today, but they are the unfortunate norm. When a business becomes just systems, efficiency, convenience (for them), profit centers (or what companies THINK are profit centers), things have already gone horribly wrong.

Whether a service or product is sold online or off, each and every customer MUST not only be valued, but they must be SHOWN that they are valued. Appreciation HAS TO BE COMMUNICATED. It cannot be just an idealistic "line" in your mission statement. Fancy phone systems sporting lovely voices dripping with elegant verbiage and well-spoken syntax won’t cut it. In business, what you say MUST be congruent with what you do. You are never so big, so much a household (or local community) name, so unique, so craved, so much the cat’s meow, that you cannot hit rock bottom in sales and profits and suddenly become history. Pride (not the good kind) goes before a fall.

I’ve said it a million times. This is the day that it matters—LIKE NEVER BEFORE. You may not see it mattering right this second, but the landscape and infrastructure of how we do business with customers is TOTALLY changing, and WAY MORE than 98 out of 100 people realize, and companies both big and small that practice customer crap instead of customer care will be gone before you know it—no matter how clever, how innovative, or how popular they are today.

Do you think droves of us we will never get fed up with being taken for granted? Don’t you know that thousands of us are already deciding to purchase our $4 cups of coffee from a different place, and many of us are driving a brand of car we never would have driven because we want a better experience? Do you think we will not sound the alarm in any way we can through our elaborate networks if we are treated distrustfully?

Businesses must ALWAYS earn your business. In the same way YOU must always earn your customers’ business, too. People work hard for their dough. More and more we are no longer in a forced position to do business with any particular entity (except MAYBE the U.S. Post Office and even that’s changing). Hey, I am not saying things won’t go wrong, or than in your own business you have no room for making mistakes. Of course you do, we are all human, and your customers understand this. What I am saying is that there must be enormous substance behind the RELATIONSHIPS you have with your customers. That way, even if something does go wrong with a customer’s experience, you and the customer have an opportunity to connect and make things right.

It’s time that we as customers AND business people become willing and diligent to STOP doing business with companies who don’t deliver respect and meaningful connection. Price should NOT be the issue. We cheapen our society when that is all we look for. There’s more than one type of currency or savings. We need to be willing to loose a little bit of cash in the short term to support companies that provide us with a value relationship. This will actually save us time, stress, and money in the long term (less stress alone is currency enough for me).There are places I simply do not shop at any more. It is an inconvenience not to, but I don’t care. I will not throw my hard earned money away and purchase stress. I will only support business people who show me that they really want my business.

That’s my roll going forward. I hope you will join me. I also hope you’ll take this to heart and apply it to your own business. Are you wiling to invite people to leave you if you’re not connecting and doing your very best for them, always? You ought to be.

I think I will also start doing something new when I have to call a company, giving borderline businesses one more chance to make it right with me before I hit the road. I think I will start recording the call from MY end. I will say, "This call may be recorded and then uploaded to my server and linked on social media networks for quality assurance". At that point I will begin the dialog. That way no one can sue me for slander when I actually blog about my experience, call the company out by name, and post the link to the "Customer C-rap" call! Remember, I’m not seeking perfection or companies who never make mistakes, I just want my business to be valued and appreciated! What do you think?

Have a Wildly Appreciative Week,

Margo


Margarett (Margo) DeGange, M.Ed. is a Business and Design Coach in the Home Fashions Industry. She creates and delivers custom training programs for managed businesses and their sales consultants to help them communicate better with customers and increase sales and profits. Margarett is a Writer and Professional Speaker, and the President of The DeGangi Group and The DeGangi School of Interior Decoration, with both on sight and on-line courses in Interior Decorating, Marketing, and Redesign. For almost 20 years she has helped individuals and managed business owners in the interior fashions and decorating industries to earn more while fully enjoying the process.

Two of Margo’s popular products for furniture store owners and their sales professionals are The Decorating School Crash Course Power-Ed Pack (9 design lessons on video/audio with 12 hours of content), and the matching Decorating School Crash Course Learner Files to measure learning, provide added interactivity, and motivate sales consultants to own their opportunities for growth.

Visit Margo DeGange’s website at www.DecoratingForProfits.com  for more information. Send email and questions to her at Margarett@furninfo.com.

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