Tip # 7: Be Ethical.
“Oh, that’s obvious, Glenn,” you say.
Is it? Remember, to most customers the perception is the reality. People are automatically distrustful of certain professions: Used car salesmen and lawyers come to mind. Certain businesses acquire a reputation for cutomer “unfriendliness.” Dell Computers went down that road several years ago and is now spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to reaquire a positive customer service reputation.
I want to make two points here. First, ethical behavior is not just being honest in the “big” things like fraud, it also applies to the little things like admitting clerical errors instead of blaming them on someone else. When a customer is under the impression that you special ordered it on Saturday, but you forgot to turn the order in until the following Wednesday, admit your mistake and let the customer know why the order is late.
You may get away with deceiving a customer every now and then, but sooner or later the word will get out and your reputation may never recover.
Which leads me to my second point. Be proactive in dispelling any customer doubts about your integrity. I used to be in the jewelry business. There was a perception that, if the jeweler doing repairs to expensive rings wasn’t on site, then the business might switch out diamonds and let the customer walk out with a cheaper stone. That would be the kiss of death for any jeweler. I’ll bet the percentage of jewlers who are dishonest is a fraction of one percent. Yet the rest of us had to overcome that perception.
In that circumstance a jeweler should “walk” the customer through the process. Address the doubt and let the customer know that the repair jeweler is bonded, that many reputable jewelers including competition use the same one, and so on. Make sure the customer is comfortable.
Mechanics face a similar problem. A manager should describe the process, emphasizing estimates, written if necessary, and so on. The bottom line: you want to remove doubts from the customer’s mind.
Then you want to live up to what you just told the customer.
Remember, word of mouth advertising is a powerful thing. People will do business because other referred them to you. The way a body shop handled a mistake with a co-worker was the deciding factor for me. I’m taking my car in next week because I believe that if they do make a mistake, they will quickly correct it.
Bottom line: Remember the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.