Messages from the Masters
The Formula for Successful Customer Service Has Been Discovered by Jeffrey Gitomer

So has the formula for reducing the risk of heart attack. They have the same problem -- Only one in twenty who know the formula will do anything about it. Knowing and doing are two different worlds.

Employees dedicated to gaining excellence in the individual elements that make service -- memorable service -- a reality. Here's the list -- rate your present status from 1-5 for each element on the left. 1=poor, 2=average, 3=good, 4=very good, 5=the greatest.

1. Be friendly first. Service starts with a friendly person with a friendly smile, who offers friendly words. How friendly are you?

2. Attitude precedes service. Your positive mental attitude is the basis for the way you act and react to people. "You become what you think about" is the foundation of your actions and reactions. What are your thoughts? Positive all the time? How are you guiding them?

3. Your first words set the tone. All encounters with customers and prospects are yours to control. The first words you deliver set the tone for the encounter. What word and tone choices are you making?

4. There are 12 elements that make great service possible. None of which have ever been taught in school. Establishing and maintaining a positive attitude; Establishing and achieving goals; Understanding yourself, your co-workers and your customer; Having pride in yourself, your company and what you do; Taking responsibility for your actions, what happens to you, and the success of your company; Listening with the intent to understand; Communicating to be understood; Embracing change as a natural progression of things and of life; Establishing, building and maintaining relationships; Gaining the ability to make effective decisions...(which means taking risks); Learning to serve others in a memorable way, and, Working as a team to make everyone more productive. In order to serve -- you must be prepared to serve. How prepared are you to serve? (managers...How are you preparing your people?)

5. Know what you sell in terms of the customer. They don't care about your product or service, they care how your product or service is used to benefit them. Are you telling them in terms of them or you?

6. Know how to serve in terms of the customer. They don't care what your situation is -- they only care about their situation, their problem. Are you serving them in terms of them or you?

7. The customer has lots of problems besides you, and may just be using you as a frustration vent. Don't take it too personally if they fly off the handle. Use the three most powerful secret words that begin to diffuse all customer problems. What are the three secret words?

8. No one wants to hear why you can't. Don't tell them when or why you can't -- tell them when or why you can -- enthusiastically! How do you tell a customer "no"?

9. Recognize customers for what they are -- your paycheck. The boss doesn't pay you -- the customer does. Next time you think the customer's a jerk -- remember he's actually your next meal. Why not send him a thank you card? How do you treat your paycheck?

10. Company policy and customer service are oxymorons. If you have a company policy, fine. Never quote from it, or hide behind it. "I'm sorry, that's our policy," is a chicken's way out. Do you use company policy to offend customers?

11. When you make them mad, it's twelve-to-one they'll leave or be leery. It takes 12 positive impressions to overcome one negative one. What do you do to recover from an angry customer?

12. You are responsible, or it won't get done. There's a fine line between taking it personally, and handling it personally. Individual responsibility leads to happy customers. Do you take responsibility or try to pass it off?

13. Take your job seriously, BUT don't take their complaints personally. If you take it personally you'll get upset, and lose your edge. If you take it too personally, you'll lose your edge and your job. If you take it seriously -- it's you with them. If you take it personally, it's you against them. What steps can you take to ensure keeping your cool?

14. Your team will get stronger when you begin to build yourself. Teams are made up of individuals who work together -- and get their own job done. What are you doing to be sure that your job is being done perfectly.

14.5 Customers talk to other customers and prospects. They will talk about the way you treat them -- good or bad. How are they talking about you?

If your score is above 65, Tom Peters would be proud of you -- and your customers are telling others. If you're between 58 and 64 you're doing good, but you're still competing against the great ones with frustration. If you're between 50 and 57, you've got a chance to be great -- but lot's of work is needed. Below 49 you're not a pretty sight -- you need make-up and lots of it. The real remedy is a face lift. Below 42 you need re-constructive surgery. Below 35, you've got 6-months to live, and it will take a turn-around and a medical miracle for you to recover. Below 30 you may be declared legally dead.

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Knock Your Socks Off Selling and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless; Customer Loyalty is Priceless. To order Jeffrey's many books and/or audios and videos, go to  (c) 1999 All Rights Reserved.

Provided courtesy of  Jim Rohn International