Effective Customer Service Program
How Do I Love You, Let Me Count The Ways

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Having been in business for over 20 years I sit marveling at the change of business. I first started out of University working for a large Canadian Bank. Each account manager had a secretary and the norm was seeing many bank employees with ten, twenty and even thirty years of dutiful service to their employer. Most of the account managers got nominal raises each year and for the most part they were very uncomfortable with computers or technology.

If you look around at bank employees today, there are very few employees with over 5 years of experience. All employees are very comfortable with technology and computers. E-commerce and internet banking are very common. There are very few secretaries, and account managers do all their typing for correspondences by themselves. Stock options and performance bonuses are the norm. We have turned into the me generation, where we'll stay with the company as long as it's good for me. Likewise the companies today keep their employees until it doesn't suit their needs, quickly offering severance packages rather than being saddled with an unwanted employee.

Is this really the wave of the future? Having left the large corporate world to start my own business in printing and promotional products, I watch as entrepreneur after entrepreneur tells me that the hardest thing to find is good people to work for them. Being in this business I interact with all types of businesses both large and small in industries like education, fashion, finance, manufacturing, technology, accounting, medicine, pharmaceutical as well as the appliance industry. Technology is plentiful and you can find a multitude of softwares to run your business properly. Finding and retaining quality employees is the challenge.

I decided that if I found that individual that I would do what I could to retain him. This meant flexible hours, understanding personal problems and listening to constructive criticism. Giving the possibility for advancement to make employees look at their jobs as careers and not transient stops along the way has also helped me retain my employees. Bosses today must treat their employees with respect and look at them as part of the puzzle rather than the last piece of the totem pole.

Now that we have dealt with employees, how should we deal with customers or clients? The answer in my opinion is listening to them. Don't push something down their throat. What's good for one may be totally wrong for someone else. Don't be dogmatic. Flexibility and speed to react are key to any growing business. Service, service and service will help you retain accounts. As loyalty has become a relic term, and competitive pricing has become the norm, a good customer service program and the ability to make your customers feel that they are special, will play an increasing important role in growing your business.

Rest assured that the only guarantee you have in business is that no matter how hard you try, no matter how right you are in decision-making, customers will come and customers will go. Learn to utilize your time effectively. If you lose a customer a wise business practice would be to try to find out why. Once you ascertained the reason, see if you can rectify the problem. If after a couple of unsuccessful attempts you have made no progress, Move On. Wasting too much time could devastate your business further. Regroup and try to figure out how you can replace this customer and attract even more new ones. Business is business; try not to take it personally. Living and learning is your best education.

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