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The Customer Service 101 talk: 'Trust me, you're losing sales!'

The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!


By show of hands, how many business owners in the audience would like to make more money? Thank you. By show of hands, how many people have noticed a decrease in sales? Thank you. Now, suppose I could share with you a few simple tips for increasing those sales, how many people would be interested? Thank you.

Well, while there are numerous strategies for advertising and marketing that can increase sales,  the purpose of today’s lesson is to impress upon you the importance of some basic points of awareness that can have a profound effect on your sales.

So, welcome to the “Customer Service 101” Training Course!


What’s Going On

       As a business owner, you need to be aware of how your frontline staff is treating your customers, and the message and impression that is being sent every day to the potential buying public.

Because you are not on the frontline every day, interviewing your customers as they leave, you may not realize what is really going on.

Businesses are suffering the effects of phone answerers who are unintelligible, receptionists who are surly or downright unfriendly, wait staff who play “favorites,” desk clerks who don't acknowledge visitors respectfully, or at all, and even cashiers who are talking on cell phones while ringing up purchases. Trust me, these things are affecting your sales!


There's always Amazon!

       Perhaps it’s a malaise that creeps in when one does business in what’s essentially a small town in the middle of the Pacific ocean. However, even on a little island with a "captive" market, people can and do exercise their freedom to choose where and with whom to spend their money. There are always other options. People can order online, those who can, may choose to go to Guam, or have relatives ship items from abroad. Or, they can simply decide to do without.  I know one person who will only buy his gas from an “A” brand vendor” here on island because of how he felt he was treated at a “B" brand station.

“Even if I ran out of gas,” he joked, yet serious, “I would still walk past a “B” Station and get my can filled at “A!”

Especially in this economy, we don’t have the luxury of ignoring, offending or mistreating the lifeblood of every business—the customer.



The Talk

So, starting tomorrow, I’d like you to call your staff into a weekly meeting to give the following talk, or some variation of it:

“Ladies and gentlemen. We are a business in business together. As a business, we survive through our customers. Our job as a business is to make the customer happy and to keep that customer coming back. Therefore, we need to make our customers feel welcomed, valued, respected and special. So, how do we do that? It’s very simple.

But, before I tell you “how” we do that, I need to tell you “WHY” we do that. You may not always remember this, ladies and gentlemen—it’s so obvious that we often overlook it—but there is a direct connection between how YOU treat our customers and YOUR happiness. I say “YOU” because you are the person the customers see every day. While I’m in the office handling management responsibilities, YOU are the face of my company.

Remember, our customers don’t have to come here. They can go somewhere else. If they go somewhere else, we don’t make money. If we don’t make money, I have to reduce your hours even more, take a percentage of your tips, and eliminate any bonuses or incentives. Does that make sense? In other words, make the customer happy, and the business survives. When the business survives, YOU survive. Your paycheck, your livelihood, and your job are all directly connected to how you treat our customers.


But, it goes even further than that! Because this is such a small island, how a customer is treated—especially a visitor to the island—has far-reaching effects in other countries and ultimately affects the entire economy. One unhappy customer with a popular blog, a Facebook page, or a Twitter network with thousands of followers, can affect what people around the world think about our little island. You never know who is watching or reading the people who come through our doors.

Now, I understand that not all customers behave in ways that make you want to be nice to them. But, that’s just the reality of being in a service company like ours. Every day we meet people of different cultures, languages, backgrounds, upbringings, behaviors and attitudes.

We also bring our own attitudes to work. It ma be that you don’t like people from this group, or that, historically, people from this group don’t like people from your group, of that this group is always rude, or that people of this group are always loud and don’t tip well, or whatever. I understand all of this. We all have those ideas and experiences in some form.

However, as valid as they might be, I need you to leave your personal biases outside the doors of our business. I need you to do your absolute best to treat everyone exactly like they’re your favorite group! Even if they snarl at you! Be gracious and never get into fights or mistreat the customers. (For those of you in the wait staff, if a situation gets really nasty, just call me or the manager to handle it). Remember, this goes both ways, I also don’t want you to have to suffer abuse from our customers anymore than I want them to feel unhappy about doing business here. Everybody deserves the best!

So, starting today, I’m requesting that each of you do a few things: First, the minute you step through these doors, take a deep breath and remember that making ALL of our customers feel special is part of the job requirement. Smile when you greet our customers. Ask them if they need any help. Give them your undivided attention when you interact with them. Say, “Thank you very much, please come again!” when they complete a purchase (and even if they don’t).

In our next meeting, we’ll do some role playing and I’ll demonstrate how to greet, speak with, and even how to accept as well as hand the change and a receipt back to a customer, or how to return a credit card  to our customers so they don’t feel disrespected.

These are just a few of some simple things that boil down to basic acknowledgement, courtesy and respect that we can give our customers so they don’t walk or drive past our doors to spend their money at another business for something we offer right here! With your help, we can create a welcoming experience for our customers that will keep them coming back and telling others about. Is everyone in agreement?”

[end of “The Talk”]


By show of hands, how many people found this helpful? Are there any questions, suggestions or other topics you’d like addressed? Thank you, and thanks for attending this session of Customer Service 101. Until next time, remember, someone is always watching!



Note: Fans and followers of the books, Chicken Feathers and Garlic Skin: Diary of a Chinese Garment Factory Girl on Saipan (saipanfactorygirl.com) or Jamaican on Saipan (jamaicanonsaipan.com), or Doing Business on Saipan (saipanliving.com) may place orders on those sites, or…..yes, AMAZON.COM!

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where is saipan

Located in the western pacific, a short flight from Guam and 3 hours from Japan, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is a popular tourist destination rich in history, culture and natural resources. Saipan, just 5 miles wide by 12 miles long, is the largest and most populated of the 14 islands making up an archipelago that stretches 400 miles (north to south) along the edge of the Marianas Trench.

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