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Monthly Business e-Tips Vol 4
Issue 9

Do You Aim to Appease or Please?

Our greatest asset is the customer! Treat each customer as if they are the only one!

Laurice Leitao

I just returned from a wonderful and enlightening trip to Africa. I learned many personal and professional lessons. The most dramatic lessons came from seeing people living in unbelievable poverty who seemed content yet hopeful for a better future. With between 40 percent and 70 percent unemployment in the three countries we visited in southern Africa - South Africa, Zambia and Botswana, it seems hard to be optimistic, but people we spoke to were. Those who have jobs share what little they earn with family members and are happy to be able to do so. While here at home, few seem happy with what they have. The more we acquire, the more we seem to want.

The personal lessons were amazing but there were business lessons, too. This issue of Growing Possibilities will focus on the excellent customer service we received. I hope it will help you evaluate where your business stands on customer satisfaction.

Our hotel room was not ready when we arrived in Cape Town, South Africa in the early morning after a long, nearly sleepless flight. So, we went off to see some sights and returned mid-afternoon. We were told our room was ready. Imagine our unpleasant surprise to find jackhammers vibrating the room. It was located over a construction project! After being told there was no other room available, I asked for the manager and explained that this situation was not acceptable.

Amid apologies and promises of “nice things” to make up for our trouble, we were given a new room. We received telephone apologies, letters and gifts every night we were there. In addition to wine, chocolates, and a fruit basket, we were invited to have dinner at the hotel restaurant at no charge. The restaurant staff followed up by calling to inquire when we planned to join them for dinner. What a refreshing experience! They were truly sorry for our difficult beginning and continued to try and make up for the inconvenience throughout our stay. The hotel staff didn’t stop with a small gesture hoping that we would be appeased; they wanted us to be happy.

At another restaurant, we waited a long time for the glasses of wine we ordered before dinner. A casual inquiry about the delay brought an apology and we were told the drinks would be complementary. Then the restaurant manager brought not the glasses of wine we had ordered but a bottle for each of us. I don’t remember much else that evening. But I was aware of the effort and sincere dedication to satisfy rather than pacify us. Do you aim to appease or please?

Why do you think the service was so exceptional in Africa? The businesses know what side their bread is buttered on. Tourism is their main industry. If travelers are not delighted and they do not go home raving about their vacation, the country doesn’t get additional visitors. Tourists are number one. That was true not only in the large hotels but in every aspect of our journey. Drivers who transferred us from one place to the next and safari guides were concerned about our safety, comfort and individual interests. The women who washed our clothes ironed them to perfection. What if you made customer satisfaction the most important goal of your business? What would the results be?

  • Customers would enjoy their experience. Not only would they be content with their purchase, they would actually like the buying event. They would be more likely to return.
  • Word of mouth would increase business. People telling others is the best form of advertisement and reduces your need to sell. Your existing customers become your foot soldiers.
  • You and your employees will enjoy your customers. When customers are not the enemy but the focus of your business, your relationship with them changes.
  • When customers become your business, it will flourish. Your products and services attract your customers to you but the way you service them hooks and retains them. They are your business.
  • When customers know you care, they become loyal. Customers need to be asked if they are satisfied. When you take the time to inquire rather then assume it gives an important message: you really do care. In addition, ask for how you can improve your service to ensure that you keep them happy.
Because of my experience, I highly recommend a visit to southern Africa. I will be happy to talk to anyone interested in going. In fact, I might even e-mail you a few of the nearly 1,000 pictures I took. The animals and scenery were awesome but it was the people and the attentive service that made the vacation. We felt welcome and important. Do you value your customers and respect them as much? They are the reason you remain in business.


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