Monday, July 14, 2008

David Anderson - Champion Service in Tennis & Business for Better Net Results in Tough Economic Times

I recently received and email from my daughter on the Gold Coast in Brisbane Australia that deals with Customer Service. I thought I would like to share it with you on my blog.

David Anderson / Okanagan Training Solutions

‘Whether serving customers or tennis aces, you’ve got to keep your eye on the ball if you want to be a winner.’

I’ve watched and played countless hours of tennis and whether it is Wimbledon or the Australian Open, I’ve never once seen a player win a match by looking at the scoreboard. Champions keep their eye firmly focused on the ball and let the scoreboard take care of itself. Yet, how often are we so busy measuring customer satisfaction results and looking at the scoreboard of tangible indicators, that we take our eye off the actual customer situation? A classic example was an attempt to improve train service. Although there were indeed improvements with running on time, it was also revealed that they weren’t stopping at all stations to pick up the passengers, as the drivers were only focused on the measurement of timeliness! So much for keeping your eye on the ball!

Let’s look at the acronym of the word, ‘service’ and other such analogies between service in tennis and service to customers.

Too often, we have confused service with subservience and people in service jobs have not had the high self-esteem that their roles deserve. How often have you played doubles with someone who ducks and calls out “Yours”? How often do you work with individuals who do an equivalent ‘duck’ and call ‘yours’ when there’s a tricky customer situation? We need to feel useful and be able to step up to every customer situation, difficult or otherwise, take ownership of that moment, and call out ‘Mine”.

Exceed expectationsAs customer demands increase, we need to constantly meet and exceed their expectations. We can never take them for granted. It’s not always the number one seed who wins Wimbledon but often the up and coming players who are willing to go that little extra distance to gain that slight competitive advantage. So too in business-and no matter how great a champion you or your organization may be, success in the past is no guarantee of success in the future.

We all know that things go wrong from time to time and even customers appreciate this fact. Encouragingly, the research shows that if you satisfy a customer complaint, and do so quickly, the majority of those customers will become more brand loyal to your organization if they feel you’ve adequately recovered from an initially unsatisfactory situation. Just like missing a first tennis serve, most customers let you have a second chance. It’s equally important to remember that 96.7% of unhappy customers never take time to complain so you better not double fault on those who do.

It’s not only essential to keep your eye on the ball but to keep in mind a long term vision in order to successfully win tennis games or customer loyalty. Neither happens overnight and in order to maintain a key competitive advantage, keep in mind a long-term vision. Tennis games aren’t won or lost on centre court. They’re won or lost on the back courts-hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year of practice before you even qualify to play in the big game.

Even if we never reach centre court, our tennis game can improve through practice. The difference between an amateur and professional tennis player is that an amateur will practice until they can get something right. A professional will practice until they never get it wrong. We need to be professional in our approach to servicing customers, as consistency is a key retention factor.

CareIf you’re a tennis coach, you care about your players, just as a service provider must care about the needs and wants of their customers. Customer care should never be some phoney platitude but a genuine, heartfelt desire to help the customer by placing yourself in their shoes, whether they be sneakers or high heels! If you like your job and look for daily opportunities to do this, you’ll find it easier to succeed. It’s better still if you love your job; love helping people. In tennis, love is nothing. In life, it’s everything! And it’s important that we genuinely care about serving our customers, our organizations, families, communities, planet and ourselves-not necessarily in that order.

EmpowerWe all like to feel that we can make a difference to the final score; that we’re a valued team player; that we can be empowered to stretch ourselves beyond former personal bests. John Akers, CEO of IBM, once said:

‘If you always get your first serve in, you’re not trying hard enough.’

Unlike Wimbleton, it’s certainly not all strawberries and cream in the world of customer service-especially in tough economic times-but it will be game, set and match to those individuals and organizations who recognize that looking after your customers will result in increased net profits.

Love all. Love all customers. The ball is truly in your court so remember that:

Whether serving tennis balls or customers, you’ve got to keep your eye on the ball if you want to be a winner.

Catherine DeVrye MSc, CSP - Author of Who Says I Can't?-Hope Happens-Hot Lemon & Honey- Good Service is Good Business

David Anderson
Okanagan Training Solutions
Priority Management Interior BC
250-762-5096 /1-877-762-5096