July 4th– Independence Day. How do you celebrate it? Is it just a day off from work? A day at the lake? When I was a child, we wrapped the spoke of our bikes in red, white, and blue crepe paper and tied flags to the back of the seats and headed over to the local parade. In the evenings, we enjoyed fireworks and a big family cookout. Our neighborhood civic club hosts an ice cream social and a local Realtor put flags in every yard.
Looking globally, the news from around the world is full of sad stories about the suppressions of liberty. Imagine what life must be like in North Korea, Venezuela, Syria, or Afghanistan, just to name a few. Can you even consider what going to the grocery store only to find empty shelves would be like? Or, just receiving the news media that the government wants you to hear? Even if you don’t agree with what’s going on in Washington these days, we still have the freedom to express ourselves openly. What about no internet access? I know my grandchildren would be stymied by that!
We have the freedom of choosing who we do business with. Recently, we booked some overseas air travel. Because of competition, we have a choice. Our hometown carrier, once known for its fine customer service, lost out due to price, service, and schedule. Freedom allows us to make a choice we believe to be a fair exchange for value. In my experience, earning customer loyalty is among the most valuable assets a business owner can have. Creating a culture within your organization that recognizes the consequences of customer freedom of choice is vital to ongoing success.
Do you encourage your employees to make decisions at the point of service delivery whenever possible? The more you can empower them to find a solution, the faster the customer will be satisfied. Having to go higher up in the organization can delay the outcome. Perhaps you can establish dollar limits that the employee can resolve. In recent hotel stays, I have found that the front desk staff seems to have a lot of discretion in resolving problems for hotel guests. It can make a difference in how you feel about recommending them or giving a positive review online.
Are your customer service guidelines aligned with your corporate mission statement? Even though my business is very different from a hair salon, I found the practices outlined in Secret Service, by John DiJulius III to be very insightful. If you are looking for some inspiration to improve your customer service, I recommend this one as a good place to start.
This 4th of July, be thankful that we live in America, that we can enjoy the benefits that free enterprise offers to us as business owners and as customers, and share that gratefulness with your staff and your customers!