Customer Relationships

I have so been on a roll with the whole customer service thing, that I thought it might be a nice idea to include an anecdote that has stuck with me for years.

Years ago I was hired to do some business process engineering for an incredibly unique company.  My role was to identify, map and diagram their processes to help them transform into a new type of business.  It was a great opportunity.  I was way outside of my comfort zone in an industry that I knew very little about, save curiosity.  I started with the basics.  Diagrams of the processes, identification of the requirements, the interaction of the processes across the organization, a gap analysis and the suggestions for improvement.  (little did I know that about a year later those suggestions would ultimately cost me my job as I had a role that I had identified as expendable, when I was consulting!)

To get to the deliverables, I interviewed users.  A lot of users.  To find the best practices, I interviewed those identified as top producers.   To understand what made the top producers, I also interviewed those considered to be sub-par and to make it fair, I met with many of the mediocre.  It was fascinating.  To make a buck, everyone had to do the same ‘thing’ and it wasn’t really that the premium producers did anything different, it was the way they paid attention to their customers that set them apart, in the end.

It was during these interviews that I experienced the difference.  This one superior producer didn’t treat any customer any different than she did anyone else.  Quite frankly, she treated everyone the same.  I witnessed her make a couple of deals in the days I spent with her.  One sale was more than I make in a year, while most of the others were less than I typically spend on handbags in a year.  It didn’t matter.  She treated them all the same and her burgeoning book of business is a testament to the success of that approach.

It was all about the relationship she built with the customer.  She knew everything she could about each customer.  She built the relationships over time and came away from each interaction she had with each customer with another detail that she could find useful in future interactions.  It is brilliant!   From these details, she was able to foresee needs and fill them, sometimes even before the customer knew they needed something.   She was amazing!  It is her approach to customer relationships I am looking to emulate as I go forward.  There is an opportunity every day to observe and capture details that can be used to build the foundation of every relationship.  I use it in my personal life, why not apply it to my professional one?

Customer relationships – the difference is in the details!

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