I was late for an appointment already, so I hurriedly made for the stairs. I was confronted with noises – shouting.
A fracas had ensued between a customer and a cashier. It was fast degenerating into a frenzy; people in the hall were yelling at one another. I wasn’t in the mood to ‘save the day’; besides I left my cape at home.
I guess, be that as it may, a leopard can’t change its spots. I knew it was practically impossible for me to walk away from this one. I just knew that I could help. I always did – help.
It was natural for me to empathize with customers. I wore their shoes ever so often and knew that they deserved to be heard, to be respected. They are the reason the business exists after all. They are the reason I have a job; I have an appointment to meet.
I swung into action. I didn’t need a script, the blazing lights, props, special effects, or any directing.
I had the presence of mind and sensibility to send an SMS to the other client with whom I had scheduled an appointment to see. “I would be about 20mins late”, my text read.
I asked the disgruntled client to please come with me. It is important to take away a customer from the chaotic environment to help diffuse the tension. I asked him how I could be of help and apologized for the fact that I had to make him repeat his requests, but it was important for me to first understand his needs to know exactly how I could be of service.
He reeled out his needs and frustrations. I listened. I repeated what I understood his needs to be and asked if I had captured his requests. I needed to be sure that we were both on the same page.
Some of his requests could be attended to immediately. Others? Not as fast. Like a proper business should be, there were processes to follow. I understood the processes and had a good idea of the time frame it would take to resolve the issues. I assured him that his complaint was noted and I would see to its resolution. I had to excuse myself to attend my meeting and asked if it was okay to have his contact details. I would call him to schedule a meeting later in the day.
In the fullness of time, I went on to meet every single business need he articulated that day. A relationship was established – one that budded into a healthy, mutually rewarding friendship.
We are friends to this day.
As someone who now runs a bespoke handcrafted footwear manufacturing company, among other businesses, I am confronted with many situations where clients make incessant demands. While I know that it is practically impossible to meet every need every time, we are dedicated to being professional and courteous in how we choose to communicate and interact with our clients.
We recognize that the most important resource is people. The people that make up our team are priceless, and the people who decide to buy from us are simply jewels. They are the real MVPs. We are unashamed to woo them, unafraid to be vulnerable with them, grateful for the gift of them, their time, their money. We appreciate that they had a pool to choose from and are possibly spoilt for choice, yet they decided to do business with us. We understand the pivotal role that clients play as stakeholders.
We have embraced a strategy and a culture of doing business that focuses on creating the best experience for the customer, which results in building brand loyalty.
I do not take my customers for granted.
We do not take our internal and external clients for granted.
Neither should you.