Are You A Customer Builder Or Customer Buster?

“Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game.”
Tony Alessandra

A while ago, I was going to give a presentation in Japan and thought I could simply walk from my hotel to the meeting place. After all, it was a nice day, and the meeting place was only a few blocks away.

Bad idea. Within a few minutes, I was hopelessly lost and running out of time. My audience was already gathered in the auditorium, waiting for me to come on stage in five minutes.

Out of desperation, I hailed a taxi and gave him a piece of paper with the auditorium’s address written on it. He looked at the paper, and he looked at me somewhat quizzically, got out of his taxi, and then came around to the passenger side of his taxi.

I was immediately relieved that I was going to get some help in getting to my destination. But I was also shocked. He was wearing a blazer, dress shirt, tie, cap, and gloves. He opened the door for me, bowed, smiled, and waved me in.

I was even more shocked when he pulled away from the curb, made a big U-turn, and parked his taxi directly across the street from where he had picked me up. He got out of his taxi, came around to my side, opened the door, and with a big smile and a sweeping gesture, indicated this was the auditorium I was looking for.

To say the least, I was embarrassed. But I was also super impressed with his customer service. Unlike some taxi drivers who would have been mightily upset with a short-haul, small-fare passenger, he was a professional through and through. In my book, he was a Customer Builder.

And over the years, I’ve found that service providers tend to be either Customer Builders or Customer Busters. The first ones tend to “build” relationships with their customers and “build” the future of their company. The second ones tend to “bust” relationships with their customers and “bust” their company’s profitability.

And in today’s economy, you can’t afford to have Customer Busters on your staff … or a Buster mentality in your company. I suppose that’s why my program on “Creating Moments of Magic: Moving From Customer Service to Customer Enthusiasm” is so popular and is being booked by so many organizations these days.

As Bill Capodaglia and Lynn Jackson point out in their book, “The Disney Way Field Book,” businesses only have two choices these days. A business can offer a commodity product, compete on price alone, and pray that a profitable cost structure can be maintained. Or a business can create a unique experience that surpasses the customer’s basic requirements and fulfills his dreams. Customer Busters take the first approach while Customer Builders take the second approach.

That being the case, you need to know where you and your fellow coworkers fall on the Buster-Builder continuum. And you need to eliminate all Buster behaviors as you adopt all Builder behaviors. So here’s a quick checklist of each one.

A CUSTOMER BUSTER exhibits some of the following attitudes and behaviors:

*Lacks an obvious enthusiasm for helping customers

*Appears to be simply going through the motions instead of truly caring about the customer’s needs

*Exudes a small amount of energy

*Exhibits an unwillingness to help customers from other departments

*Exhibits an unwillingness to go the extra mile when a customer has a question/problem or a product is out of stock

*Treats customers as an interruption to his work rather than the reason for his work

*Avoids eye contact, smiles, and other signs of welcoming body language

*Presents an unprofessional appearance

*Appears disengaged, leaning against the counter, with his hands in his pocket and his mind wandering

*Appears too busy to drop his current task and engage the customer

*Appears distracted while talking or listening to the customer

*Appears unable or unwilling to find some kind of personal connection with the customer

*Makes little or no attempt to engage the customer and the others that are with him

*Makes little or no attempt to understand the customer’s needs

*Asks superficial questions that only focus on products and services

*Does not show empathy for the customer’s needs

*Does not bother to thank the customer for his interest, time, or purchase

In essence, Customer Busters don’t have the attitudes or skills that lead to customer enthusiasm. They’re kind of like the catering manager who was discussing a baby’s christening party with a young couple. The catering manager told the mother, “You look like you’ve lost most of your pregnancy weight.”

“Thanks,” came the clenched-teeth reply. “We adopted.”

By contrast, Customer Builders are like my Japanese taxi driver. In fact, I was so impressed with him that I did a little research and found out he worked for the MK Taxi Company and the whole company was like my driver.

MK Taxi Chairman Sadao Aoki believes, “If I take care of my passengers by taking care of my drivers, then my drivers will make their passengers feel very special.” He’s right. The company treats its drivers with respect so they might in turn treat their customers with respect.

Their culture of respect goes to every aspect of their customer-service business … from their vehicles to other drivers on the road. MK drivers keep their cabs spotless. When a driver does not have a passenger, he’s sweeping, cleaning, polishing and detailing his cab. And when he’s on the road, MK drivers are known for being more courteous than the average driver.

MK drivers are Customer Builders. And as I said before, in this economy, everyone in your company must be a Customer Builder. So what does one look like?

A CUSTOMER BUILDER exhibits the following attitudes and behaviors:

*Has a genuine interest in people

*Demonstrates a visible enthusiasm and a high level of energy

*Has a true desire to help customers whether or not he makes the sale

*Is committed to customer satisfaction

*Respects others regardless of age, income, race, religion, or education

*Appreciates the opportunity to serve others

*Creates a personal connection with each customer

*Gets to know each customer as an individual

*Connects with the other individuals that are with the customer

*Engages the customer in dialogue so she can determine what the customer needs and why she needs it

*Demonstrates excellent product/service knowledge so she can answer customer questions and resolve customer problems

*Demonstrates respect for the customer with a warm tone of voice, welcoming body language, and friendly facial expressions

*Uses active, empathic listening skills to make the customer feel understood

*Tells the truth, even if it means the customer may go somewhere else

*Works at making every customer interaction a pleasant experience without expecting anything in return

In essence, becoming a Customer Builder comes down to three things. As noted in the “Little Teal Book of Trust,” Jeffrey Gitomer says, “Sales is not a matter of leads and appointments and closes. It’s not even a matter of the quality of your product or service. Sales is a matter of 1) who you are, 2) what your attitude is, and 3) how dedicated you are to personal excellence.”

Action:  Look at the two checklists … for the Customer Buster and the Customer Builder. Check off each attitude or behavior that is characteristic of you. And see what you have to do to become more of a Customer Builder.