I read it every day

Have I let them down in any way? reminder sign

March 28, 2011 · 2 comments

One of my top 10 print buyers was located in the little farming community of Casselton, North Dakota. This small manufacturing company built the skid-tracks for Bobcat front-end loaders. It was a fun little factory to visit because they were always busy and the air was always hot and filled with machine noise and blue oily smoke. It was blue-collar America at its best.

One day, I remember making a sales call to see their purchasing agent, a guy named Al. As I was sitting in his office, a phone call came in from a customer in Wyoming. I remember thinking how empathetic Al seemed as he listened to the customer describe his problem. He was really doing a nice job providing good service to an unhappy customer. When he finished the phone call, I gave him a compliment and asked him what motivated him to provide that kind of good service. He answered by reaching in his pocket and pulling out his wallet. Then, he removed a small, timeworn piece of folded paper and handed it to me. “Read it,” he said. Written on the note were these words: “Have I let them down in any way?”

When I looked up at Al, he smiled and said, “That is my minimum standard of customer service.” He explained that he felt like he was failing the customer if he did anything that would let them down.

As I sat there in his little office taking about catalog printing for an upcoming trade show, I realized I had just unexpectedly attended one of the best customer service seminars of my life.

I couldn’t get that phrase — “Have I let them down in any way?” — out of my head. I really wanted everybody at my printing firm to treat my customers the same way. To help reinforce the concept, I had my design department create a little sign that could be easily installed on everyone’s computer keyboard. We put it on card stock and printed it on our color copier. We’ve used this idea for over 10 years now. It is a constant and daily reminder that our goal is to provide service so good that our customers never feel let down in any way by us.

The photo above is a picture of the sign that I have on my personal computer. I’m now on my third computer, but the sign remains. It’s showing a little bit of wear and tear, but the message still resonates loud and clear.

Maybe you could use this idea to remind your employees how important it is to provide good customer service for your customers.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony Tedeschi March 30, 2011 at 7:38 am

Dear Mike:
Another great blog. Thank you for sharing. Speaking of which, I took your advice and picked up a copy of Enchantment. So far, excellent reading. I like Guy Kawasaki’s writing style. It is easy to grasp the simple yet important concepts he conveys. Like you, he is readily sharing the knowledge that he learned from others and from experience.

Dan Huntingford March 28, 2011 at 11:47 am

I re-read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People this weekend. It pretty much says the same thing. Look at things from the other person’s perspective. Put yourself in their shoes. Find out what they want. Listen to them and their concerns.
It’s not about you, it’s about them.

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