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Identify Your Silent Customer Service Message

With the growing number of people in every business sector, doing business requires creativity and ingenuity. The entrepreneur that understands the importance of thinking differently is the entrepreneur that sees their businesses growing. However, too many business owners are relying on the old ways of doing or packaging their products and services. Whether retail or service oriented, old clich?s and techniques no longer work.

A recent trip to Universal Mall in Warren, Michigan, provided some great examples without having to look too hard. One store with glass displays cases had a two-inch by six-inch black and white engraved sign on every case stating "Please Do Not Lean On Glass." Behind the counter was a series of handwritten signs behind the telling customers such topics as their $15 service charge on all refunds, the need for a sales receipt and period for getting a refund, and the policy that all refunds are given in the form of a store credit.

Across the hall was a store celebrating their grand opening. Amid the celebratory flags welcoming people to the new store, was a sign disallowing food and drink in the store. At the back of the small store under another grand opening sign was another sign providing the charge applied for all returned checks. The sign, printed as a lower amount, had been alter with a black marker to $25 per check. Another store owner was busy in his cell phone in an obvious personal phone call, did stop talking briefly to ask a waiting customer, "What do you want?"

Despite the message they thought they were giving, the consistent message was "Don't do business here". Think about the message at the first store. Is the owner telling us that he is customer focused, selling quality products, and standing behind what he sold? Absolutely not! He is telling every customer that he has had such poor quality merchandise that he must address the tremendous number of returns he experiences. And what about those signs, perhaps "For your safety, please do not lean on glass". Then there is the new store: Have they already had problems with spilled drinks, crumbs, and bad checks? In fact, they have already had to change the returned check fee. Their signs, which are nothing more than disastrous clich?s of unsuccessful past businesses are focused on the business owner, not the customer. These signs turn away business instead of building it.

Now let's talk about other entrepreneurs. Although networking still is the number one way to build business, traditional networking is proven to be discouraging to many entrepreneurs. Citing few or poor-quality referrals, many are looking for other ways of building business. In reality, referral groups are filled with entrepreneurs that know one or two people in most of the fields represented by others in their group. The referrals will always go to those with whom they have the closest relationship. Many have found groups like Max Impact's Catapult? (http://www.getmaximpact.com) or The President's Club offered through RHL Associates in Southfield (http://www.salesgohigher.com) to provide much better results. Some are also learning how to build their own groups of professionals that they form with complimentary goods and services providers. These individuals see their customer base growing as they are able to provide a more complete answer to the problems or pains of the customer. They are breaking with the "clich?s" of old networking techniques and launching cutting edge relationships.

Leadership at all levels requires superior customer service. Leaders look at how they can meet their customer's needs by finding new ways to recruit them, making them feel appreciated and wanted, and building a long relationship that continually looks at creative ways to address needs on an ongoing basis.

Rick Weaver is President of Max Impact, a national leadership and organization development company based in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Rick is an accomplished business executive with experience in retail, market analysis, supply chain and project management, team building, and process improvement. He has worked with hundreds of companies to improve sales, processes, and bottom-line results. MaxImpact offers leadership and organizational development services along with employee assessments and background checks. Contact Rick at 248-802-6138 or via email, rick@getmaximpact.com. MaxImpact is on the web at http://www.getmaximpact.com.

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