One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about my job is the opportunity to travel and meet new people. Traveling always seems to provide me with chances to see lots of examples of Customer Service, and those examples run from ”OK” to “GREAT” to “How does that person even keep their job?” Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart once said “There is only one boss. The Customer, and he can fire everyone in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” I think that this quote, in particular is relevant to every single business on the planet, no matter how big or small they are. The bottom line is, if we don’t take care of our customers, there is certainly someone out there more than willing to step up and fill our shoes.
One of the best examples of a company believing that they were “untouchable” is Blackberry. At one point, Blackberry controlled over half the world’s smartphone market, yet in just over 5 years Blackberry was just about out of business! Why? For one reason, Apple introduced the first generation iPhone which obviously created quite a buzz, but the question remains, why didn’t Blackberry listen to Its huge customer base and up their game and answer the iPhone with something for those millions of Blackberry owners? I cannot think of a better example of poor customer service. In fact, right after the iPhone came out, the CEO of Blackberry stated “it’s OK, we’ll be fine.” I’m sure there are many holders of Blackberry stock out there that would love to ask that CEO “How did that work out for you?”
Great Customer Service isn’t something that you go to a training class for. Sure, there are a countless training seminars out there that guarantee that once you attend the class you will provide “World Class Customer Service!” The problem is, give most of those people that attend a “World Class Customer Service Seminar” a couple weeks and they are back to their usual habits from before, bad or good. Great Customer Service starts at the top of the organization and flows down to each and every associate in the organization. Its not a “flavor of the week” program, it’s HOW the business is run and the expectation of how each and every associate in the organization has the personal mission of making each customer interaction they have that day be one that is positive, upbeat and leaves the customer satisfied in the knowledge that we have done everything we can to provide them with a positive experience.
The tire business is one of the most competitive industries in the world today. Huge companies like Michelin, Bridgestone and Goodyear go into the same markets and solicit the same target customers we do. I truly believe one of the main reasons that Tire Group International competes (and wins) so well in today’s tough market conditions is we all, each associate, strive to provide the best service to our customers that we can. Why? That’s easy…Our Founders can remember the days when there was just ONE customer to take care of! That customer became 2 customers, 2 became 10, 10 became 50, 50 became 100, and so on. The great thing about TGI? That first customer is just as important today as the day they signed up with TGI and no more important than any other customer in the TGI family!
I challenge everyone to “own” the idea of providing Great Customer Service to all the Customers you interact with, and there are only two types: internal customers (co-workers from other departments), and external customers (people from outside businesses that you deal with). Pretty simple right? When you cook the idea of providing great Customer Service down to its simplest form, it really is just a mindset that you have to develop that means that everyone you interact with, regardless of who they are, deserves your BEST. I believe if you strive each and every day to deliver your BEST, you stand a pretty good chance of being treated that way in return!
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