We are all customers and we know how good (and unusual) it feels to receive flawless service-service that goes beyond our expectation. We are so delighted about it we reward the provider. If this positive experience is perceived to be exceptional-an event that we, the customer, want to rave about-the natural reward is to recommend this provider to our friends. Great business is rewarded by more business.
This is the ultimate goal of Total Customer Management (TCM).
Conducting your business in a way that makes your customers want to talk about you in the most complimentary way is like hiring the best marketing and PR agency in town and having them pay you.
Most customers return to a business and refer that business to others based on how you sell, not on what you sell. To reach this level of customer delight is not easy. The principles and needs are basic.*.*.*as basic as how you would treat a very good and special friend.
The tough part is having the patience to stick to it once yourecognize the need for change. The patience to be a leader rather than a manager, a coach instead of a director and a listener instead of a talker.
You will need the courage to look beyond the quick fix to a process which takes longer to develop and implement but has a lasting effect on your business and its image. This is not a program with a beginning and an end. It's a process which begins with a need for improvement and leads to a state of continuous improvement, never ending.*.*.only getting better.
TCM helps companies recognize the real needs of their customers, the internal resources required to meet and exceed those needs, with a proven result of improved image and a more profitable market share.
TCM is a business philosophy that puts the customer ahead of all else by recognizing that the customer provides the business capital needed to operate day-to-day and on into the future.
TCM provides guidelines on how to direct the focus of your business, your people and your suppliers toward developing a ``user friendly'' business culture.
TCM proponents have moved away from expecting the customer to work within their company policies and procedures and have instead moved toward restructuring their internal processes to meet the expressed needs of their customers. By doing so they have sent a clear message to their customers that they are listening and that they care.
The focus of Total Customer Management is on your customer, your image, your resources and your plan of action.
Your customer is your boss. Your customer provides financial support, consultancy services and performance reviews for everyone even remotely connected to your business. Your customer is a partner, a critic and the force in your marketing department.
Your image is your future. Your image is not what you do, but how you do it. Your people need more of your attention because they represent you and your company in their face-to-face role with your customers. Thus their level of individual and team attitude, appearance and professionalism are what the customer will see as your company image.
Your buildings and property come second after your people. They are important to your image in that they must ``invite'' the customer to come in. However, it's what you and your people do while they are there that makes the visit exciting.
Your resources are the key. Your primary resources are a vision, a commitment to that vision and the people (employees, customers and suppliers) who share both the vision and commitment through your leadership and training.
Your plan focuses on Total Customer Management. You, in counsel with your people, customers and suppliers determine the goals.
To accomplish those goals, it will be essential to provide training to improve your employees' people skills, develop leadership, build teamwork and improve their communications and other capabilities.
The results are exciting and rewarding, both financially and culturally. The fun level increases. Your people develop a more positive feeling for their company, their customers and the future of their relationships with both.
Mr. Jennings is the founder of Jennings Enterprises in New Haven, Conn.