Reminded of the Olympics

Olympic Stars – Good Customer Communication Skills?

While thinking about my next post, I was reminded of the Winter Olympics…which is right around the corner. The first person that comes to mind is Bonnie Blair (1). I had the privilege of being a neighbor and a friend to Bonnie and her family…and being part of the “Blair Bunch.”

On several occasions a group of us would head out for dinner or sporting events, with Bonnie leading the charge.  Invariably while at the event, she would be stopped and asked for pictures, autographs and/or introductions.  In watching this unfold time and time again, I asked her if the attention bothered her or became monotonous.

In true Bonnie fashion, she smiled and simply said, “They are the reason that I exist.  They support me, encourage me and give me the focus I need to be the best.”

Let’s take that logic to the workplace.

Do our employees feel that way toward our customers? Are they willing to accept interruptions and impositions with an attitude like Bonnie’s? If not, then they certainly don’t understand the power that a personal connection has on our customers.

If our customers take the time to talk to us, we really need to listen. We need to hear the words, the tone, and intention. We need to consider the input as gold. If we use that nugget to improve our companies, we can only win more customers. However, if we ignore the feedback we will lose one client after another…until, well they are all gone.

It starts at the top.

This attitude does not happen on its own; it has to start from the top. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard executives speak poorly about their customer service people. The worse case was at a Fortune 100 firm (that started in the radio business and whose logo looks like a bat) when an executive told me that their “Field Service personnel were just trained monkeys.”

Are you kidding me? That’s what you feel about your frontline personnel, who work every day face-to-face with your clients? I resigned from that firm shortly thereafter.

We need to train and support our frontline personnel better than any other single group in the company. They are the face of our businesses. We need to give them the tools and empowerment they need to present the right image to our clients. We need to treat them like the gold-handlers they are.

What does the face of your organization look like?