SCORE

“Do you know me? Do you really care?”

I believe that this is one of the basic things that your customers ask themselves every time they interact with your business.

Most of the time, it is asked subconsciously.

It is a good way to differentiate your business from competition. I avoid doing business with companies that treat me like an inanimate object on an assembly line.

For the past eight years, I have been conducting a three-part workshop series titled, “Getting Ahead at Work by Growing Your Value as an Employee.”

The series is currently conducted annually at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology  in Harriman for their students and employees of Roane Chamber of Commerce members.

The series is free for students and Roane Chamber member employees; others pay a $75 fee.

In the first workshop of the series, we focus on customer satisfaction.

In addition to external customers, employees have internal customers:

People they work with. People they depend on or who depend on them. Coworkers.

The first area we focus on is acknowledging and interacting with others.
Doing this effectively is a critical basic for customer satisfaction.

Many businesses don’t emphasize this, which may present an opportunity for your business to shine vs. your competition.

We cover the simple, and often overlooked, basics: Acknowledging others (greeting and nod); smile; eye contact; and saying thank you.

The most important is eye contact.

I ask the students to pair off and practice the first three, with at least 3 -5 seconds of eye contact. Three seconds seems like forever!

Then they are asked to share how that made them feel. One of their homework assignments is to practice all four techniques with friends, family, teachers/managers, coworkers and sales people and to observe while shopping.

The following week, volunteers share what they experienced.

The first year, the workshop series was conducted at Roane State. About 20 of the participants were from TCAT.

We start the second and third workshops with volunteers sharing their experiences with utilizing the workshop topics.

Two women shared that on their way over, they were walking down the hall at TCAT. They were following two teachers who were commenting about how much more friendly the environment had gotten in the past two weeks.

Imagine, a small number of students having that much of an impact!

Think about the potential positive impact on the level of employee satisfaction in your business.

A quote that is emphasized in the series is, “Others don’t necessarily remember what you do for them as much as they remember how you made them feel.”

Studies have shown that face-to-face communications are on three levels and have determined the impact of each. Words account for 8 percent of the impact, tone accounts for 37 percent and non-verbals 55 percent.

This brings up a basic issue: The communication has to be genuine. Your employees have to truly feel that they know and care about each customer as an individual.

Emphasize “Do you know me? Do you really care?” When I shop, I often have the cashier say “thank you” and not even look at me. They don’t know me — and they really don’t care.

What about phone contact with customers?

Since non-verbals at 55 percent are not in the picture, what should be done?

Here is a simple technique: Before answering the phone, one should inhale and smile. This will greatly help with the positive perception of one’s tone.

Again, remember the importance of being genuine. Have your employees practice this.

Sound simple?

Yes, and its importance as the foundation for customer retention is often overlooked.

Studies show that only 3 percent of companies conduct formal training of their employees in customer retention.

Is your business one of the 3 percent?

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Dana Peterka is a Roane County SCORE counselor and chairman-elect of the Roane County Chamber of Commerce. Email him questions about small business-related issues at newsroom@roanecounty.com. Business owners can reach him through the Chamber of Commerce at 376-2093.