Thursday, December 13, 2007

Innovation: 5 Things Customer Service Can Learn from SANTA CLAUS

Customer relationships are conversations, and customer service is the new marketing. One very important part of conversation is the spirit in which we approach it. In many ways, children got it right -- they approach every wish as possible. What do you want to be when you grow up? An astronaut!

The other important part of conversation is listening. What would you like Santa to bring you this year? Is the often unspoken question children begin to think about right about now when it gets chilly outside (well, in my part of the world) and signs of the holidays are starting to be everywhere you turn. Children look clearly into your eyes and tell you they are making their list for Santa.

Let’s take a look at five things that customer service can learn from Santa Claus:

1. Santa exists in the minds of those who believe in him. It’s the same for corporations. No matter what you think you are, you're only what your customers believe you to be.

2. Santa knows what kids want. Customers aren't children (usually!). But think about the last conversation with your best client. Was it about something they wanted -- or you?

3. Santa reads your list. More importantly, he checks it twice. What's worse than missing the opportunity to delight your customer? Letting a sloppy mistake ruin it. Accuracy is the star of your marketing team.

4. Santa rewards good behavior. In these days of increasingly compressed budgets, it's certainly easy to justify skipping the little things: sending a valued client a nice holiday gift, rather than the cheapest thing that will hold a logo. These economies are false savings.

5. Santa delivers -- every single time. Check the history books and you'll find Santa has never sent his regrets due to scheduling difficulties or bad flight weather. Find your Rudolph. Being there isn't half the battle. It's everything.

"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.” Or there should be, when it comes to customer service. And, just like Christmas, the spirit of customer service excellence really should go on long after the wreath is boxed and you've taken the tree to the curb.

Regardless of which holiday you celebrate this month, may your days be filled with success, and your homes with peace.

Valeria Maltoni • Conversation Agent • Philadelphia, PA •

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