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Good Customer Service Is More Than Good PR
by Patricia Fripp, CSP, CPAE

In the throes and stresses of our workday lives, we sometimes forget how our customers see us. One single negative contact can ruin your reputation in the eyes of not only that one customer -- but everyone he or she knows as well. After all, word of mouth works both for or against you.

You need to make sure everybody in your organization knows he or she is an important part of it. Each department depends and dovetails into the other to produce quality in service or product. Everyone makes a difference: the sales force, the service technicians, the clerical staff, the PR department all work together toward the same goal -- keeping the customers satisfied.

A perfect example of how everyone makes a difference is when I was in a Nashville hotel attending a board of directors meeting for the National Speakers Association. After the meeting, several of us went to the coffee shop to continue our deliberations. Each of us asked for exceptions or additions to the menu items; we wanted separate checks; and to make things even more confusing, being speakers, we talked to each other the whole time the waitress patiently took our orders.

"My dear, all this confusion is going to be worthwhile -- these guys are big tippers," I said.

She said, "I'm not being nice for a tip. It doesn't even matter if I get a tip or not. If we give you good service, your group will bring back its business here and not to the competition."

Isn't that a marvelous attitude from someone on the front lines? I was so impressed, I wrote a letter to the hotel manager congratulating him on his staff and especially the waitress at the coffee shop.

I never received a reply. That waitress "wowed" me with her service and her attitude; but the manager's lack of response almost nullified her customer service savvy. Everyone makes a difference. I think the manager and the waitress should change places for a couple of weeks, she knows more about good PR than he does.

As Paul Harvey says, "Advertising strategies work if everyone knows about them, from the highest corporate executive to the entry level worker."

©2004 Patricia Fripp. All Rights Reserved

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