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Serve AND Protect Your Customer

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Katy Wild

Katy Wild

Executive Vice President, Customer Experience

Freeman

Looking out for the customer’s best interest is always best

You hear it everywhere — in the news, from executives, your supervisor, from well-known business gurus — serving your customer is the key to company success. But you don’t often hear that there is a responsibility to “protect” customers, which can also solidify that relationship. 

The team at our customer support center reviews orders to ensure that customers don’t order a 10'x10' carpet for a 10'x20' space, or a 42" high table with low chairs. Our audio-visual experts take pride in recommending a different technology or software to a customer wanting a specific “wow” reaction. Stepping in with these actions serves the customer well by providing what they need — but also protects the customer from unwanted surprises and disappointments.

I observed this on a different level recently in a store in my neighborhood specializing in shipping packages. I was there to return a package and walked right up to one of the counters where the store manager greeted me warmly. The second counter was only a few feet away and was occupied by a customer that was obviously not having a good day. 

He was loudly broadcasting to the clerk about his dissatisfaction with a utility company. I didn’t get the complete story, thankfully, but the more the clerk was trying to help him with his request to send a certified letter, the more agitated the customer became. The store manager quietly apologized to me for the situation and continued to process my package. 

But when the clerk gave the upset customer the price for his transaction, the volume became louder, laced with colorful language, which turned to anger. Seeing the escalation, and how uncomfortable it was becoming for customers who had walked in and were being subjected to this exchange, the store manager excused himself from me and did something remarkable. He apologized to the upset individual, said he was sorry that they were not able to provide what he needed, but if there was something else they could do for him in the future, they would love for him to return to the store for assistance. 

In a flash, the customer was taken aback and didn’t really know what to say but “Okay” — and left the store with no further outbursts. That manager protected the customer by allowing him to save face in a heated moment by offering to serve him “better” at a later date, protected his employee from further abuse, and protected his customers from feeling trapped in a rather hostile environment. No small feat, and his actions were most definitely noticed and appreciated.

Want to keep your customers coming back for more? Continue to serve your customers with your best efforts, but make it personal by protecting them as well.

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