A coffee mug does more than just hold coffee

A coffee mug does more than just hold coffee

Jurek Leon - Tuesday, March 04, 2008

by Jurek Leon

In his book ‘Seducing the Vigilante Customer - 101 winning strategies to attract and retain happy customers and healthy profits’ author Graham Harvey includes some great tips and observations to help you impress and retain your customers.  Here is an edited version of just one of the 101 strategies explained in his chatty, easy-to-read style.

“I'm not sure that Buddha was necessarily thinking about customer service when he said, "how you do one thing, is how you do everything", but the message could not be more relevant in today's business environment.

When visiting clients and prospective clients, I am often asked if I would like a cup of tea or coffee. I always say yes, not always because another cup of coffee is exactly what I need, but because it gives me an opportunity to learn a great deal about the company. How it thinks, what its values are, whether it is truly committed to customer service, whether it 'walks its talk' in regard to the words of the neatly printed 'mission' statement displayed in reception.

If a company truly is a customer-focussed organisation, then even the quality of the coffee cup and how it is presented to a visitor or customer is the result of careful thought and consideration. Are your customers male or female? Or both? Are they predominantly blue collar or white-collar customers? What are the ages of your customers?

Can you imagine a 'truckie' trying to drink out of English tea-bone china with a handle so small he can't get his finger through, or a professional saleswoman being given a large chunky half-pint coffee mug with some smart-ass sexist or chauvinistic slogan adorning the exterior?

In addition to observing what gets presented in reception, I am also keen to see what gets presented to staff. A visit to the staff lunchroom or kitchen area gives vital clues on how committed the company is to delivering outstanding customer service to its internal customers. On many occasions, I have been disappointed to find an array of crockery hand-me-downs that even the local op-shop would hesitate to display for sale.

What's worse is that I have seen in some kitchens, a sign that reads "for visitor use only". Behind the sign is a collection of good quality crockery reserved for people deemed by management to be of greater importance than staff. What is the sign really communicating to staff? It says, 'we have one standard of service for our external customers, and another standard for you, the internal customer'. In other words it says 'you are a lesser person'. Even worse, in some companies there are unwritten consequences for staff found using 'the good crockery'. I have even witnessed locks on cupboard doors of the 'important' people's crockery.

Now I know you are thinking that a coffee mug may seem somewhat trivial in the overall scheme of things, yet as I've stated many times before, it is the little things that have the greatest potential to make the biggest difference.”
I’d recommend you invest in a copy of Graham Harvey’s book for each member of your team.  Give it to them packaged together with a yellow highlighter and a note asking them to go through the book a couple of pages at a time and highlight any points they think can be adapted and adopted for your business.

This could be one of the most cost effective investments you ever make in customer service.

You can order your copies via the Resources section at www.terrifictrading.com.  Go on, it won’t break the bank and it will make a difference.

Jurek Leon is a speaker, trainer and consultant.  To subscribe to Jurek's FREE monthly email newsletter go to the Free Articles section of his website www.terrifictrading.com and type in your name and email address.  It’s simple and easy.  Alternatively, email Jurek at info@terrifictrading.com.

Jurek Leon is a storyteller, trainer and coach who presents courses and addresses seminars on word of mouth marketing, motivation, customer focussed selling and managing the customer experience. Subscribe to Jurek's FREE monthly ‘Terrific Tips’ e-newsletter at www.terrifictrading.com. Alternatively, email info@terrifictrading.com.

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Jurek Leon is a storyteller, speaker and trainer. Subscribe to Jurek's FREE monthly 'Terrific Tips' e-newsletter at http://www.terrifictrading.com/terrific-newsletter/. Alternatively, email info@terrifictrading.com.