By Mary Jurek & Piera Klein
What Do You Know About Customer Service?
Everyone has a whole to say about the ongoing problems with the US economy. Yes, it has affected just about every person I know somehow. The economy changed many things, perhaps made many persons just a little humbler and put some of the most materialistic values of the über-rich in check, or you could say, less obvious. Along with these benefits, what we are feeling is that a bit more gratitude is floating around out there.
Is it just us, or we, as a whole population who shifted the fast-paced values of the well-oiled lifestyles and traded in for some old fashioned people skills? In light of the new landscape, Americans are counting their dollars and cents, and have learned to appreciate the value of human relationships again. This foundation-family, friends and good old fashioned customer service is what nurtures our connectivity. The many who had forgotten these life essentials as their bank accounts grew, are searching for the warm, fuzzy feelings of human closeness.
Healthy human relationships are key to healthy societies here on earth. It is also true that authentic relationship-based customer service is essential to a healthy business that will stand the test of time.
Last week I sat down with designer Mary Jurek to discuss this very topic. She brought to light several important elements of customer service in what she called “The Daisy Chain of Excellence”—a phrase which my mind immediately gravitated to, and yearned to explore.
“Quality and excellence should exist on every level,” said Mary. (And I for one agree!) If you want excellence, you have to give it, and you should treat others the way you would like to be treated — it all makes the world go round and a better place for all of us to live. Here are some of the “daisies” in the chain of excellence at Mary Jurek Design, Inc:
1. Strong, innovative and functional design.
2. High quality standards of enduring materials
3. Skillful, time-honored craftsmanship
4. Respectful and competent management of employees
5. Strong team partnership
6. Fair pricing
7. Top-Drawer Customer Service
“The list above adds up to trust,” Mary said. Without trust in goodwill, our transactions are taken at a higher risk. For a business to grow, it needs to identify and cater to real consumer needs, while meeting its own. When business is mutually beneficial everybody wins. Running a business this way may be a bit more old fashioned and may take a bit more time to manage, but in the end, it’s going to last. By setting high standards, we will raise expectations from the customers and it is that which creates the new goal for the brand. There are no short cuts to building a trusted brand — if there are flaws, they will eventually show. So the best philosophy is to take good care of business on every level. The bottom line will then take care of itself.
Customer Service: A Conversation with Debra Krone
Photo: Debra Krone, Territory Sales Representative at Mary Jurek Design
PK:What is it about your line of work that you love so much?
Debra Krone: I love introducing/selling the customer great products and showing how different products work together to create not only a fabulous table, but also revenue.
PK:In your opinion, what are the keys to building trusting relationships with retailers?
Debra Krone: Always tell the truth even if you lose the sale. Being available for not only the sale, but if there are problems. I go the extra mile whether it’s getting additional information, images for their website, working with their sales staff or with their clients.
PK:In regards to problem solving, what have you found to be the most effective strategies for retailers to keep their customers happy when something goes wrong or if for some reason they just aren’t happy?
Debra Krone: Ask a lot of questions!
PK:How important for you is it to know the designer of the product line that you represent?
Debra Krone: It makes a huge difference if you know the designer. It makes the product special not only to me, but to the sales staff.
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Photo: Nordica Pitcher & Mosaic