Value the Little Customer

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A potential customer called a fence company for an estimate on a split rail fence he wanted installed on residential property. The representative stopped over, gave the client his price, and remarked that it was a minimum size job. The agreement was signed and the salesman promised the work would begin as soon as the homeowner obtained a permit. The homeowner obtained the permit, called the fence company, and left a message for the salesman to notify the work crew to begin as soon as possible. Repeated calls from the potential customer ended in frustration. Obviously, the salesman was very busy, and it was a small job. Thus he never bothered to arrange for the work to be done.

Borg's Rule: Never ignore a small order. It can cost you big money.
Let's examine the psychology behind that rule. First, even though the job that the customer requested was small, it could be the beginning of a potential relationship that would bring in repeat and/or referral business. Second, every customer knows other people. Anytime he is pleased or disappointed about service, he talks to friends and acquaintances. On the average, a customer will tell 5-7 other people of a good experience he has had with a particular business or organization. Good advertising can result from good service. An unhappy customer will tell 9-16 other people of the poor service he has received. Bad advertising usually results from bad service.

How can we avoid offending the customer who has a small order? First and foremost, train your employees to give the same kind of service to that customer as they would to a customer with a large order. If that is impossible because your company is just too busy, then I suggest you find one or two smaller businesses to use as referrals for this type of customer. By doing this, you will give the customer the kind of service and respect he or she deserves.

When it comes to service, far too often the employees of a company or organization make the decision to short-change the customer because they don't see the whole picture.

Remember some business owners approach their operation as if it were a 50 yard dash. They don't realize that they are running a 26 mile 385 yard marathon. Unless their employees change their focus, frustrated customers and lost business will result. Contrary to popular belief, there is not an infinite number of eager customers wanting to buy your product or use your service. In addition to that, there are a growing number of competitors who are vying for those customers.

As a business owner or manager, make it a point to educate your employees on the value of each customer. Make it clear to them that their paycheck depends on long-term satisfied customers. In the end, your customers, your employees, and your business will all benefit.

Tom is president of Tom Borg Consulting, LLC. He is a business consultant, trainer, coach and author. He works with small and mid-size businesses and organizations and helps them develop their most valuable asset – their people!

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