So, customer service? Yes or no?
Please say “Yes”… please.
Sometimes I think people hear something over and over and it tends to lose it’s meaning. At least it’s true for me, sometimes. “Customer service” …say it over and over and see if it GAINS any meaning. No? You’re not alone 🙂
When I was young, my dad was in the military and when I got older, he went to school to become a refrigerator and AC guy. He got his degree and opened up a small business. He “gave away” a lot of services and helped a ton of people.
If you didn’t have the money, he would typically lower his price, telling the customers that it was time for a sale on that part anyway.” He had a soft spot for old people. You know the kind, alone and living on social security, tucked away and forgotten with few friends or family. Some little old ladies would call him and say “Harry, my refrigerator went out and my food is going to spoil.” So, my dad would put his sandwich down and drive over and take care of it, usually the same day. And once there, he sometimes found out that they had very little food or their pilot light needed to be lit…and her husband did it for 40 years, but she was scared to light it herself. My dad took care of those things.
I’d help him out here and there, cleaning, handing tools to him and answering phones. He taught me to say “Yes ma’am” and “Yes sir” when chatting with customers on the phone. (it’s a Southern thing!)
He taught me to be kind and to be patient. I learned a lot but what I learned the most was how he treated his customers.
See, my dad wasn’t fancy, he had a beat up old pickup truck with those lock boxes in the back. He wore the same type of shirt every day and…he kept it really simple.
He enjoyed his work and he really enjoyed helping people. He kept candy in the car so when he did drive up banking, he would toss one in the little gizmo that shuttled capsule back and forth to say “Thanks.” And to see them smile.
I heard something that struck me as a life nugget…
“reputation follows you everywhere in life”
I learned from horrible sales people and jerk face waiters and impatient mechanics and snobby medical professionals… how to NOT treat people. I also learned from the compassionate and kind medical professionals, the over the top helpful sales people and the waiters that bent over backwards to do a great job.
Their reputation precedes them. I want the good ones helping, not the bad ones. A great waitress can make a dull evening fun and enjoyable.
Walking into a place, I love it when someone greets me and asks me how I’m doing and if I need any help. The really good ones will know when to step in and when to just let me wander. I r
eally don’t like hate despise loathe those people that don’t LISTEN to what you’re saying and not saying. You know the ones, they are aggressive sales people, smarmy (go ahead, look that one up, I’ll wait) unctuous (I’ll wait again…just in case you don’t know what that one means either) weirdos that think you’re a patsy. I have no problem telling them I’m only there to look and please go help someone else out leave me the hell alone, I know exactly what kind of chair I want
When I started LindaBoBinda’s Designs, I never really thought I’d be where I’m at today. I’m sooooooooooooo freaking glad I kept the basics that my dad taught me – to be kind, punctual and to have a product worthy of value. The best thing to him was repeat business and customer referrals. I decided I want that too.
When I started, goodness, my work was rather simple, thin, watery and bland. I kept pictures, I have proof.
My mom taught me to never leave a house party or dinner without offering to help clean up, and to get their early to help, if possible. She liked to help and serve, as well as my dad. (Southern Hospitality was the norm in the house)
I took the best of both of them, along with some tidbits along the way and I try to integrate them into each and every customer interaction. Even if I don’t get a sale, I’m kind anyway. When I know I can make 300.00 off a custom order but I know someone else who can do it better – I refer out. Why? Because it’s integrity … I like having integrity. Doing the right thing, even if it costs you money.
See, I learned a really important lesson along the way. I like to sleep good at night. I’ll chase someone down to make sure they got their proper change when I screwed up. I’ll also chase them down if they walked away by accident without paying (hey, farmers markets are busy places lol)
I’ll explain a few things but tell you where to find the info on your own, I have limits on how MUCH I’ll help.
But those 5 stars, I bend over backwards for those. That means something to me. It means I stood up for my beliefs and how I treat people. It means I spent of extra time with the customer who needed some extra hand holding. And I don’t charge a PITA fee.
What? You don’t know what a PITA fee is?
It’s a (turn the kids away, this part is NSFW)
PAIN IN THE ASS fee
Because, you know… some people are really difficult.
No need to be unkind, just simply back away and refer them out to someone who can help them.
I live …okay, okay, I TRY my best to live by the Four Agreements.
Don’t make assumptions
Don’t take anything personally
Be impeccable with your word
Always do your best
The Four Agreements, written by Don Miguel Ruiz. I really recommend it. If you don’t read it, memorize those 4 lines. Life changing words. All 16 of them!
You counted the words, didn’t you? (Don’t worry, I did too!) ha!
So, being a jewelry artist here’s the skinny on how I integrate those 4 on any given day.
I just do it. It’s about the customer, not me. And some days are better than others.
Because at the end of the day, when I send that final picture to my customer and say “here’s your size 9 sterling silver spinner wedding ring” and they “ooh and ahh” over it…
and then polish it and inspect it for “quality control” for the umteenth time (what? too much?) and
put it in a gift box
wrap it with ribbon
tie the bow
add a sticker that says “Thank You”
Throw in a business card (because, “referrals and repeat business”)
and yep, if I have it, I throw in a mint (thanks Dad!)
and stick it in the envelope and slap a stamp on it…and send it off
I HAVE to know, I NEED to know…that I did my best.
I like sleeping good at night.
So, go the extra mile. Don’t skimp on quality materials or work with crappy tools. Wear clean clothes, BE KIND to everyone (you really don’t know what kind of day people are having!) if someone is crabby (they might be the distressed bride looking for a budget ring, so be compassionate because… that’s all they have to spend)
Take time to chat unless you’re super busy, then learn ways of getting people to move along (hey, farmers markets might be the ONLY day they see people! You might be the only person that said “Hey! How are you doing today?” (and for gods sake, don’t just be nice to people because you want the sale, because as soon as they leave and the fake smile comes off your face…THAT energy flows to the next person and…sleeping good at night, remember?)
And, if they don’t buy anything after you have been kind, after you have spent time with them, after x,y,z…wish them a good day. Remember…energy. Thank them for coming in, or sending you a request on Etsy, or stopping by your booth.
One last thing (I told you when I first started this blog I’m a bit long winded, right?) 😛
I was also taught “Be kind, but take no shit”
That means, we don’t have to put up with abusive customers, people who are aggressively trying to haggle you down, tell you “I can make that too” or the person who wants to photograph your work so they can copy it… Just move them along.
Have fun being the best you can be. I’d love to know what your customer service includes, there’s always room for improvement!
And remember, the beautiful lotus cannot grow anywhere except for mud. So, if you’re struggling with customer service, good. That means you’re trying and at the end of the day that is all anyone can ask for!