Service? What does Service mean?

My son had a long ice hockey practice and I was hungry so I walked across the street to the shopping mall food court. I opted for Chinese food. I ordered from the menu posted above and behind the counter, and the girl rang up $4.89 on the register. I pointed her toward the posted menu which said the item was $2.69. She looked at me, looked at the register, looked up at the sign, back at me, back at the register, back at the sign, and then said, Well, I rang up $4.89 so that's what you have to pay.

I called my cell phone provider to clarify a mistake on my bill. The recording asked my language of choice, and then I listened to the prompts: Was I calling for service or to pay a bill or any of a hundred or so other options. I selected questions about my bill and the computer voice asked if my query concerned residential or business service or long distance or local or was there an interruption in service or whatever. I selected residential, listened to several more prompts and was placed on hold. Finally, as daylight gave way to darkness, the voice said a customer associate with be with you momentarily. Then I listened to commercials interrupted by, your call is very important to us. Our customer associates are busy with other calls and will be with you momentarily. Finally, a person (I think) answered: Who am I talking to? Are you the person responsible for the billing? What is your social security number? What was your mothers maiden name? I had some difficulty remembering why I called in the first place. Finally, the problem was resolved.

I recently pulled in to a No Service (I know, I know, they call them Self Service) gas station. I went inside, offered a twenty dollar bill to prepay my gas. Two men were standing behind the counter, one on a cell phone speaking a foreign language, the other looking at him as if waiting for an important message. When the call was complete the two talked with each other for a minute or two while I waived my twenty dollar bill at them. Finally, without looking up, one took my money, asked which pump, I told him and I pumped my gas. When I came back inside for my change the two were engaged in heated discussion, one looked at the register, popped it open and gave me my change, wadded up in a pile I had to unfold before it would fit in my wallet, all without a glance. No thank you, no acknowledgment that I even existed.

Quick, how often have you ordered fast food from someone who can't make change? Or to make it worse, how often have you offered a few pennies or a nickel or something after the clerk has rung up an amount, and then waited while the clerk had to ask for help to make your change? How many times have you entered a store only to leave after finding it impossible to get help? Or, on other hand, how many stores do you ignore because salespeople surround you like vultures and try to push you toward a purchase?

Do you find it irritating that a bank wants to charge you to talk to an employee when you have given them the privilege of using your money? Or how about the airline that charges you $5 or $15 for the privilege of booking a flight by talking to one of their telephone representatives?

Or, more to the point, you send some of your hard earned money to a magazine advertiser and don't get your materials for weeks and weeks and weeks. They tell you they have to wait for your check to clear first or some other such nonsense. Then, when you get your materials, they are incomplete, so you want to contact them but all you have is a P.O. Box for an address, and your letters go unanswered?

What is the purpose of my rant? Service, that's what, or more appropriately, the complete lack of Service in so much of American business today. Banks want you to do your business on the Internet, gas stations want you to do your business at the pump, you buy tickets for the concert through a faceless phone voice doesn't anybody want to look at you, to smile, to say, Thank you!

Wouldn't you be willing to pay extra if someone would just treat you with respect? Wouldn't you give everything you have if someone would teach good manners today?

Don't you think you could do really well in business if you gave better service than anyone else? Yes, you could, but its not as easy as it seems; otherwise, everyone would be doing it. Major companies like luxury car makers, top line hotels, jewelry stores spend millions and millions of dollars to assure a great shopping experience. Why? Because they have learned something most people never give a thought to; i.e. if you have a good experience you will come back.

I once worked for a man who had the highest priced service in his industry, and was the most successful. His guideline was: The price is irrelevant if the value is perceived. Simply stated, give someone his or her money's worth and you have a client for life. This man added: People pay for excellence but are shocked if they receive it. Wow, did he get it!

Lets talk about Service using a company I know about: L.W. Publications, and our service/product, LazyWealth™, our Guidebook, “Take a Really Fast Drive Down the Lazy Road to Truly Great Wealth”, our email assignments and our personal attention. By the time I started LW Publications, I had had many different jobs, had been in real estate, and had tried (and usually failed) at several entrepreneurial endeavors. Along the way I learned what I liked and didn't like and I patterned my company after those elements of service I thought were important. The result has justified my belief that people just want to be treated well (for proof, click on the Testimonials link here are read what others say). My sales are the highest in the industry, my returns the lowest, and my students not only know they are following the right path, they talk to me along the way by email.

So what is the magic to this stuff called service? Actually, no magic at all. Good service is just an extension of something mama used to teach, Good Manners. Mr. Lazy believes good service is nothing more than understanding it is a privilege to have a customer and should be treated as such.

Lets look at some of the elements of good service:

1. Smile—I worked for a company that had the word SMILE posted on every telephone. The owner said it is impossible to sound like you don't care if you smile.

2. Say “Hello” and “Thank you”—Thank you may be the safest phrase in America. Nobody ever got mad at you because you said Thank You.

3. Don't argue with your customer—I recently had to make a doctors appointment. Since I rarely go to a doctor I called my insurance company for a referral. I was grilled during the first call—what's your social security number, your policy number, who will be responsible for payment?—but never asked why I wanted to see the doctor or if it was an emergency. I ended up going to another doctor.

4. Make the rules clear.—Mark Twain said you shouldn't bother reading the small print because it doesn't say anything you want to hear. Banks and insurance companies, and some department stores, have created rules so complex and so difficult to understand that only a lawyer can appreciate them. You and I are not giant companies so we don't need giant rules and regulations. People appreciate being able to understand what you are saying.

5. Don't hurry but be quick— This line comes from the great basketball coach, John Wooden. Respond quickly to questions but don't make your customer think you are just trying to get rid of him.

6. Listen to your customer—We have two ears and one mouth because, as a wise man once said, we cant learn a thing when we are talking. The drug store chain, Osco, opened stores throughout the West Coast a few years ago, but the stores did very poorly. The chain, east coast based, couldn't understand it; why did they do so well on the East and so poorly on the West. For awhile they blamed in on the slower, laid back style of the people in the West. Eventually, someone pointed out to them that the word Osco is very close to a Spanish word that means upset stomach. There are many Spanish speaking people in the West and who wants to shop at store whose very name means you don't feel very good!

7. Be honest—How many times have you felt someone was lying just to get you off the phone? You may not be challenged when you don't tell the truth, but that customer will never deal with you again.

8. Every customer is a sale—What has this got to do with service? I worked in the mortgage business once and the boss made this statement. One of the salespeople raised his hand and said, What about all those people who hang up without asking us to do their mortgage? The boss said, Do you think they eventually got a mortgage or just gave up? His meaning was obvious, the customer went someone else. When you don't provide someone with the information required you are just making a sale for the person he or she talks to.

9. Your greatest expense in business is getting a customer—The second greatest is losing that customer to someone else. You work hard to make someone trust you enough to send you some money, work even harder to make that person come back. I had a good friend ask me how I could spend so much time personally responding to my customer questions when I only charge about thirty bucks for my service. I responded that I didn't see how I could not respond since each customer is responsible for my business success. Take an extra minute to appreciate each customer.

10. Praise everyone—Have you ever met someone who did not want a compliment? Mr. Lazy struggles with this sometimes but he has been lucky enough to meet people who never say anything unless they can find something nice to say. What a difference it makes! The other persons face lights up, someone noticed me today! Notice everyone and your business will be huge success.

I'm sure there are hundreds more examples you can come up with. Business success is not a matter of computer systems, accounting systems, engineering systems, or any systems; business success is a matter of Good Manners! Test us today, order your Guide here and enjoy the best service in America today.

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