The Last Customer
by Rich Gallagher, Point of Contact Group
What if you had one simple rule – for you and your support team – that would guarantee excellent service? I recently completed a new business fable (stay tuned!), with a charming story that was based around just such a rule. Here it is:
Treat every customer like they were your very last customer.
That's it. No policy manuals. No committees. No balanced scorecards. Just one simple rule that clarifies all of your actions and all of your policies, now and in the future. A compass that will always point you on the shortest path toward success and profitability. And a guiding principle you can teach everyone on your team in less than five minutes.
Think about the last time a company said, "Sorry, we can't help you," even though you both knew better. Or a disengaged store clerk acted like she was a million miles away as she rang up your purchase. Or a restaurant that wouldn't allow substitutions, or a credit card company with Byzantine and inflexible service policies. Did they treat you like you were their last customer? Or was this simply the last time they ever saw you as a customer?
You see, when you realize that your success depends on each and every person who interacts with you, physically or virtually, you learn to manage these moments of truth so that everyone wins. Think about scenarios like these:
In each of these situations, you don't even have to think about what to do. Start seeing people as your last customers, and your gut will take over and tell you what's right. This rule puts customers firmly in the driver's seat, with an extremely simply choice: Treat them fairly and they will be back. Serve them well and they will lead other customers to you. Brush them off, and watch your entire business walk out the door forever.
The last customer rule even helps you set appropriate boundaries. If your very last customer were someone who harassed your agents or misused your return policies, would you still try to keep this customer? Not likely. By looking at everyone through the lens of being your last customer, you gain a laser-beam focus on what is really important to you, your team, and your business, and then draw those lines where they should be drawn.
Today's reality is that we live in a world of connections. People tell their friends what they like, and statistically tell even more of them what they don't like. And with the global reach of online social networks, they are just a mouse click away from praising or trashing you to thousands or even millions of people. This is why seeing them as your last customer is so important: with one person, you now have the power to attract an entire community, or shut down their whole network.
Start treating everyone like your last customer, starting tomorrow, and great service will not only become much more likely – it will become the "last" of your concerns. Good luck and best of success!