Out of the top industries which include airlines, banks, cell phone services, credit cards, hotels, insurance firms, internet providers, investment companies, medical insurance, and retailers, consumers ultimately choose good customer service over low prices. While low prices certainly entice us to buy from someone, a bad experience and a lack of respect can drive that customer away in a New York moment.
Customers deserve respect even if they are wrong. From the moment a customer connects with a sales representative, either on the phone or in person, right up to the end of the conversation a customer wants the sales person to guide them through the array of choices. As an example, I was online trying to order a chocolate delight to send out for Valentine's Day. The agent's voice was friendly, warm, and professional. She knew her inventory well, and she was able to explain every option with me and even volunteered to add a special item to my order to really personalize the gift for me. There was no doubt in my mind that this sales person really enjoyed her job and had a passion to please.
So what makes a company really shine? It's the culture of the organization; it's respect. Companies that outshine others are those that screen and hire candidates with a passion to please and a sincere respect for others. Zappos hires candidates through a series of multiple interviews including a session with a voice coach, and a business psychologist. The voice coach evaluates the warmth, tone, personality, and empathy of the candidate. The psychologist tests the candidate's reaction to pressure on the job. By the time the training period is over, the sales representative knows that customer respect is the mainstay of the company. Tony Hsieh believes customers are always entitled to their voice and opinion; even if they want to rant.
It is truly special people who are the best representatives for a company. I doubt there's not many of us who can state we have never lost our tempers dealing with a frustrating customer service or sales representative. Someone at the bank just shared with me that he was speaking with an IRS agent the other day and became agitated when the agent disallowed a deduction. The IRS agent allegedly put the citizen into a telephone "timeout kiosk." The citizen said he held there for 20 minutes and eventually just hung up.
It's dubious that the government will choose to send all of their employees to charm school, but respect should be in the first page of any training manual. Those sales agents we hire who can keep their temper in extreme diversity, have good memories, speak the English language well, and show through their actions their commitment and respect toward a company's culture should be honored and cherished by all employers.