Are you all about the customer? Do you read customer service horror stories and swear “That will NEVER be me!” or “I’d never do that!”?

That’s a good attitude. Admirable even. Except for one little thing.

You’re not focusing on the customer, you’re focusing on yourself.

Let’s read those two statements again. That will never be *ME*. The customer isn’t even referenced, it’s all about you. Same thing in the second sentence. *I* would never do that!

See how quickly the focus switches from your customer to you?

Don’t lose your customer focus or profits are sure to follow.

This post is part of the monthly Word Carnival extravaganza, made up of a merry band of small biz experts. This month we are tackling Service in Business.

Not Everyone Loves Coffee

This statement may shock you (it still surprises me on a regular basis), but it’s absolutely true.

Me? I LOVE coffee. Coffee and I can trace our love affair back to my college days. Our relationship is stronger than ever, especially after I discovered certified fair trade, organic coffee. Forget save the cheerleader save the world. I’m saving the world one cup of joe at a time.

And how does this information help you, or your business? It doesn’t, and there’s the problem.

I’m focusing on me, my likes, and what I consider a perk. Not everyone likes what you like, even your favorite customer who pays early, and tells all their colleagues they should hire you.

Let’s say I discover a new local roaster of fair trade coffee. Their Ethiopian blend rocks and I decide to share it with my top client. Out of the blue, just to say thanks. Sounds great, except they hate coffee. Maybe they’re even allergic. My gift becomes a stark reminder of what I don’t know about them.

Not sure what your clients consider great service? What refreshments they prefer? What their interests are outside of work? ASK!

Still stuck? I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Deb Brown owner of Touch Your Client’s Heart. She offers a service to help you identify unique gifts and customer appreciation ideas that fit within your budget. I’m always amazed at what she can find, recommend, and if you need it, will implement.

Egos are Expensive – Check Yours at the Door

Ok, you’ve spent the time to understand what your client needs to feel appreciated. You’ve put the effort into delivering on that need. Now you want to feel the love.

Stop! The Warm Fuzzies are for your client, not you.

Let’s talk turkey coffee here. If I go into an establishment and there is free coffee (even bad coffee) it gives me a warm fuzzy. If it tastes better than jet fuel or tar I’m feeling the love. Unless…

They won’t stop talking about the fact they offer free coffee. Aren’t we great! We care about you, and we’re going to prove it with free coffee. Our competitors don’t give you free coffee. Did you have the free coffee?

By the time you leave you’re ready to throw the free coffee at them and never return.

The brilliant idea you had to show appreciation by offering free coffee has turned your clients into a fleeing mob. Check your ego and focus on the customer.

Even Octopuses Can’t Do Everything

You’ve done the research, you’ve sent your ego to Florida for the winter, and you’re ready to truly serve your customer.

You’ve got high end coffee, flavored creamers, a variety of sweeteners and a determination to personally make fresh coffee every hour.

Hmmm… maybe you should grind the coffee beans fresh right before you make it. Some of those creamers taste artificial, perhaps you should create your own, homemade version. Honey is a great sweetener, but there’s nothing local available. How hard could it be to start your own hive and harvest it?

Hold up there! Yes you want to show your appreciation, but that doesn’t mean you need to personally handle every detail. Even if you have 8 arms like Olivia (our octopus mascot) you’d still never be able to do everything yourself.

In a way this is your ego reasserting itself. Ok I can’t take credit for it publicly, but *I* need to be the one who does everything. Nope. Create a plan, train your people (or outside contracted resources), and empower them to make the customer happy.

Your time is optimized, your staff and third party resources have a sense of team and trust, and your client gets to experience an organization where everyone follows through on the customer service.

Final Thoughts

Any self-serving customer “service” stories to share? Stuck for ideas? Resources?

Or perhaps you have some feedback for me. How can I make your experience here better? Would you rather if I talk about Chai Lattes next time? Dark chocolate? Roast Targ?