“I never wanted to be a business person, he said, I just wanted to make people’s lives better.” My friend is a Catholic priest with a large mission.
I started thinking, how do most people go into business and what is their mission or intention? Is it to just make a lot of money? Do you have to want to make a lot of money to be successful?
Obviously caring about people is not a recipe for failure.
People that want to serve people are few and far between. Serving people is the basis for customer service but many companies seem to be on a different path. Are they afraid if they care about people they won’t make money? Are they thinking they will have to ‘give away the house’ to satisfy the customer? Companies like Zippos and Nordstrom are always cited for their customer service policies—exchanging items that have been worn, shipping articles without freight charges and just loving their customers. They are customer friendly and highly profitable.
So what makes the difference? It would appear that a mutual respect must exist between the customer and the business.
My friend went on to talk about the customer relationship. He is in the housing business and provides housing for many in need. Providing housing does not mean giving it away or leaving the customer out of the equation—on the contrary. The consumer is considered an integral part of the plan.
“In order for people’s lives to be better, says my friend, they must also want better lives. When it comes to housing, they must take care of their property and be proud of what they have. This means no garbage or graffiti, and caring for their next-door neighbors. There are noexcuses.”
Basically, if the customer isn’t part of the solution, they are part of the problem. (Who needs this kind of customer?)
It assumes there is a synergy that exists between the customer and the business. The responsibility for everyone’s success lies in the understanding that all involved must play a part. In housing, for instance, people must take care of their homes and their neighborhoods. Without this partnership, neighborhoods will not grow and property will eventually deteriorate. This is what often happens in neighborhoods where people take little responsibility and are not held accountable.
Respect for the customer as well as respect for the business lies at the bottom of this equation. One must always be willing to examine the situation reflect on the original premise. Is this what we set out to do? Getting away from the original mission and path is a recipe for disaster.
Customers need to be treated with respect and dignity and held responsible.
The commitment to the community has been the cornerstone of building and changing neighborhoods. I choose to call this customer service because it’s about giving and providing service for people.
Without this underlying passion for changing lives nothing would be accomplished for the customer or the business.
Lisbeth Calandrino helps business build loyal customers through customer service training and social media marketing. For training or speaking, Lisbeth can be reached at her web site: www.lisbethcalandrino.com.