Same, same but different – so what? by Guest Blogger Phil Loxton

Today’s blog post is written by guest blogger Phil Loxton, trainer and consultant.

It’s funny how our perceptions of people are altered by how much or how little we feel we have in common with them.

A large man singing loudly, with a can a beer in one hand and football scarf in the other, is a hooligan – unless that scarf happens to be one of our teams’, in which case we are likely to join in the singing. But what does this mean for us in business?

 Well, let’s start for a moment with a company’s employees:

In my company there are two employees, A and B. Employee A was highly regarded by my business partner, who also happens to be my wife. She referred to having a good feeling about this employee and was happy to give her a lot of work, she felt “a kind of link there” she informed me. I have a lot of things in common with my wife and so I felt happy to be carried along in this and I readily agreed to employee A getting more work, even though certain events occurred that left me wondering if employee A was really one to trust.

Then a funny thing happened: my wife stepped back from the business and suddenly I was left to manage employee A on my own. I didn’t have the same feelings as my wife, I didn’t see the same connections, and so ultimately I had less desire to work with her and to offer her more work. I became more wary about using her, due to previous events. The relationship has thus deteriorated and neither side is as committed to working together as in the past.

On the other hand we have employee B. I like employee B. I discovered him and we have many things in common, not least a desire to live our lives and a more loving and spiritual way. In short, I can see many more similarities with employee B than with employee A. As such, even when employee B has made mistakes or let me down, I am willing to forgive and forget and move on.

Why should this all matter? Well, leaving aside the thorny issue that we are in fact ‘all one.’ there’s a very good reason why we should look at how our search for similarities and our willingness to accommodate those with more and reject those with less can have a fundamental impact on our employee and customer relationships.

We need to be willing to extend the same level of love and trust to those who we see as being very different, as we happily ascribe to those who we see as being the same. It is this which is at the root of successful relationships in business and successful relationships lead to better performance and better results.

The same is true of the customer relationship – we are drawn to those who we see as being similar and draw back from those who are not. This leads to some very good and profitable cooperation, but can also mean that others are not so successful and you could be missing out on valuable opportunities to grow.

You can have the best product/service and the highest salaries but without love and trust no one will want to work for you or do business with you.

In the end, learning to love and trust is the only way we can provide the stable foundation in our companies on which everything else is built.
Phil Loxton also blogs at http://www.loxton-english.de

Going the extra mile – even on foot!!!

I recently experienced a fine example of effective customer service whilst shopping for a present (a cosmetic product).

I couldn’t find the item I wanted on the shelf and the sales assistant offered to phone another branch (about 10 minutes away) to see if they had the product in stock. As I would be heading in that direction later I told her to go ahead and phone her colleagues. She returned, saying it was available and that if I would like to wait and enjoy a soft drink at the counter, she would get it for me. This lady (high heels and all) then disappeared off into the city to fetch my product and I was served some nice, cold juice!

After what seemed like only five minutes she returned (slightly out of breath!) and told me proudly that she had a deal with her counterpart in the other branch; they would always set off walking and meet halfway to exchange products needed by a particular customer, then head back to their respective shops, completing a kind of ‘Olympic relay’ handover.

This really sealed the deal for me. Though a competing chain of shops is actually cheaper I will now always return to this particular store in future. This store really does “go the extra mile” (or yards!) for its customers.

Good customer service is really quite simple, isn’t it? If we are grateful for every customer and go that extra mile by finding a way to serve them that makes them feel special, they will return to us again and again. Sometimes, they don’t come back instantly – in my industry for example it can sometimes take a year or too – but in that time a happy and satisfied customer will tell others. Valuable referrals will come.

What’s your tip for providing good customer service? Or have you experienced particularly good service recently? I would love to read your comments.

Til the next time, Louise