Train Your Customer
Have you ever thought about training your customer? This sounds like an odd theory but in actual fact it works and I will give you an example of this in a little bit.
In order to train a customer, you must first get one very important thing accomplished. You must make it a privilege for them to do business with your company. Kinda like how comfort cooling "they" say is a luxury, well not so much anymore. Comfort cooling has now become a necessity because we have supplied it to so many for so long, we struggle without it. Now, when it fails it's a major issue in many cases. People are sent home from jobs, the health of some is compromised, productivity in the work place diminishes...These are all true. What I'm saying here is, don't make it a luxury for customers to do business with you, make it a necessity!!! Once you have accomplished this, you can begin to train your customers to make life easier for your business and reduce stress in daily operations.
Business Owners Listen Up...
Creating this privileged service starts with you. Leaders are incredibly important in creating a winning environment, without a fantastic leader, things will unravel quickly. Support your team, offer solutions and act on them, provide the resources required to get the job done. Richard Branson said it best "clients do not come first, employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients".
If you think about the psychology behind this, it's actually quite mind blowing, or mind fuck, as the kids call it these days. Here's an example for you...Everyday you walk into the same coffee shop at 730am and order a large coffee with two cream, one sugar and you order it from the same beautiful smile and happy personality that you always do. At some point you'll notice, one day as you walk into the coffee shop, your coffee is already being made without even placing an order... Congrats, you have just trained the coffee shop employee. But here's the question, what if for some unworldly reason you wanted a tea that day? Hmmm, that has now become a mind fuck for the ever smiling coffee pourer now turned tea pourer. We are all training one another in our daily lives in perpetual motion, our spouses, our kids, co-workers etc.
Training Your Customer...
Training your customer is not unlike training someone to make your coffee. I used to hear a now retired dispatcher say religiously on the phone, "eight o clock", she was referring to the time the tech would be on site. This used to, in the words of Peter Griffin, "grind my gears". It's all good if showing up for a service call, but if it's a large preventative maintenance or quoted repair not so much. Most suppliers are not open until 730am, there are line ups and then traffic, it could be 930am before they reach the site. I began to speak to her about this, pssst....but in actual fact I was training her to avoid blurting out a specific time. If a customer gets used to you showing up at 8am every morning, the day you don't, they will become agitated and disappointed. In a perfect world, we could show up bright and early everyday, but in the real world shit happens. There could be five emergency calls that roll in, Dave's computer at the supplier could go haywire and say the part is available, but it's really at the other branch across town.
My old, hard nosed boss, who I have spoke about many times, originally brought up this concept of training customers to me. We had many loyal customers and a lot of great techs at the time, it was truly a privilege to work with us. We did a significant amount of work for a large sever room design/build outfit. They subcontracted us to install and service the cooling equipment in their rooms. I remember a specific customer training course that not only worked for that specific case but came full circle. I don't remember all the specifics but the little details don't matter here, I may or may not embellish the story to get my point across, wink wink, nugidy fucking nudge!
We were having some issues from time to time with a server room unit, the room itself had no back up cooling so every time the unit went down, it was a scramble to get over, assess and repair the problem. The customer was told that a back up unit should be installed out of necessity. So one day, frustrated with their lack of action to add back up, a service call came in. Instead of dispatching a tech over immediately, my boss thought nope, not this time. He told them everyone is out and tomorrow is the earliest we can come. They had to shut down some servers, set up fans, etc to avoid disaster. After that episode, shortly after...back up was installed. It's funny, because I can recall most new installs afterwards for the same sever room design/build outfit having 100% redundancy built in.
This stunt obviously required balls, and also confidence, and a sense of privileged service. In the grand scheme, the customer finally realized they had failed at not providing back up in a sensitive environment and it created more work for our company. Again, I urge you to build the reputation of being needed, trusted, and becoming a necessity to your customer. Once you have accomplished this task, you won't need them anymore if they become non compliment and a pain in the ass to your business. Firing customers becomes an option at this point. And if you're as good as they say...They might just beg for forgiveness.
"One of the most valuable things you"ll ever do is fire a customer" - Tony Robbins