Last week I shared lunch with Yeho, a childhood friend I last met in Zimbabwe in the 60s. He is now a senior marketing executive with one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the United States. After learning that he had been around for several weeks, I was, as a customer service strategist and consultant, curious to hear what he had to say regarding our level of customer service vis-avis his experience in the US.
“Gerald, you have your work cut out for you” he said. “Can you imagine I walk into a business and no one approaches me? Many times I had to initiate the conversation including the greeting. You people have a bad attitude”, he added. I couldn’t agree more. “Please continue”, I said, as I listened to what I already knew well and regularly share with my participants.
“People here do not know how to sell; they don’t know how to get money from customers; they lack sales skills. In our business our sales people have mastered the art of enticing customers to buy more than they had planned. I found classic statements such as ‘what else can I get you; we also have this; I am sure your beautiful daughter here would love this; missing from their conversation”, Yeho said.
I told him he would change his perceptions after he encountered the street vendors – the best sales people in this country. These are the guys who will sell you something you had not intended to buy. As I drive by, these street guys throw magazines in my car knowing well I will pay. While at a filling station one guy replaced my wipers without my permission and threw my old ones in the back seat and told me to pay when I got the money. I paid him on the spot.
As I listened to Yeho narrating his experiences, I realized how often we come across these challenges and how we have developed the “it is ok” attitude thus accepting mediocrity instead of refusing to accept poor service and helping businesses to improve their service. Yeho’s bad experiences are not insurmountable challenges. The skills can be taught and acquired and the attitude can be changed.
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Written by Gerald Mpyisi