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To serve is to rule

WE'VE all heard the stories - fabulous stories of great service from companies and individuals in small businesses that have gone way beyond the norm to provide extraordinary service.
You have probably heard them enough to make you sick; especially if your service is lousy.
You go to the airport and see some huge banner of an airline bragging about the "satisfaction award" it just won. Huh? Am I missing something here? When did an airline deserve to win anything? Maybe the luggage fee award, but I can't see how anyone who makes a customer wait endlessly on the phone, get dinged for everything under the sun, be penalised to change a ticket, and stand on line for an hour to receive "service" just to get a boarding pass and get charged for a bag or two should be rewarded. Help me understand the "award" part of that.
But I digress.
Each of us has had a wake-up call both in business and individually. Things ain't what they used to be. And in spite of what you may hear or read from some economic or government genius, it will be a long time until things get back on track.
Meanwhile, in the real world, you and I have a job to do, a business to run, customers to serve, and people to employ, and attitudes (morale) to maintain. Some will take these tasks more seriously than others.
And now is not the time to point fingers and blame. Now is the time to take responsibility - personal responsibility - for the outcome of business success, especially your business success. Whether you own it, sell for it, work in it, or are part of the family of someone employed - now is the time.
Reality: There is no handout, er, I mean bailout coming in the mail for you. The cheque is not in the mail.
Reality: You are the bailout. I am the bailout. Together we are the collective bailout.
Reality: Your victory starts with your customers' victory. Without customers, there is no chance of winning.
Reality: There are fewer customers, and those that are left have less to spend.
Note: I didn't say, "nothing to spend," I said "less to spend."
Now is the time to think: service before sales.
Here are the elements of your bailout, your survival, your sales, and your success.
• Success starts with attitude training. If you, or your people, or your co-workers are angry, afraid, or resentful, it will reflect in the way customers are served.
• Leadership creates the tone, and the environment for success. Employees look to employers for direction, and to set the example.
• Attitude starts inside with co-workers and bosses. Train attitude before you train service - invest in people. Start with real world training.
• It costs no extra to be friendly. But friendly is worth a fortune, and a reputation.
• Identify every service opportunity. There are probably less than 25 actual opportunities to serve co-workers and customers. Once you identify them, have a company meeting (or meetings) to identify best practices - and dates to implement new and better strategies and expressions.
• Service is an individual not a company. Serve for yourself first. This is perhaps the most difficult of all the points I'm making. It means you have to be personally responsible for everything you say and do - for yourself and for others.
• Service is a personal act of pride, not a chore. Most people fail to realise how powerful service really is. Service is not a job or a task. It's not a bunch of words you say to others. It's not how you respond and react to a situation. It's not just recovering from an error. Service is being kind, having a heart, and doing the right thing - the best thing - in favour of your customers.
Well, there you have it. The secret sauce, the formula, and the actions that will help you through these trying times.
Great news: If you start today, you'll be just in time to catch the wave of customers as the economy begins to tick up - or should I say up-tick? Either way, the clock is running. Better catch it before it blows by you - to your competition.
For a few more economy insights go to www.gitomer.com and enter ECONOMY in the GitBit box.

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