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The Customer Believes You Are the Company

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#1   Posted: 20 Jul 2012 12:37

"Customers don't distinguish between you and the company you work for. To the customer's way of thinking, you are the company."

— Ron Zemke, Author, Service America

No matter how many new ideas business come up with, the basic principles of customer service never change. I first read this quote by Ron Zemke many years ago, and still today it describes an important principle of customer service. Zemke is a prolific author and an expert on customer service, and I have read and studied his books for years. His teachings are timeless. I even used this quote in my first book, Moments of Magic, to introduce a chapter on making a good first impression.

First impressions can make or break a customer's entire opinion of a company, so a good impression by employees on the front line is essential. The customer's perception of the entire company can be based on just one person. The importance of a good first impression is magnified in a business setting, where it can set the tone for the interaction that follows.

Discovering this quote again puts me in mind of my "Awesome Responsibility" concept. In short, each person in an organization has the awesome responsibility to always be a good representative of the company, because at any given time, a customer may form an impression of the entire company based on that one employee. Each and every employee represents everything about the company.

My kids proved this concept recently when we ate at a restaurant. We interacted with one employee — she took our order, brought our food and took our money, all while displaying a friendly demeanor. On our way out my daughter said, "The people at this restaurant are so friendly." She didn't distinguish between our server and the other restaurant employees. To my daughter, that one employee represented the entire restaurant, its good food and great service. In effect, she was the restaurant.

You may have heard or read my story about a cab driver. If so, you will recall that he did not make a good first impression on me with his disheveled appearance. It made me wonder what I was in store for as I entered his taxi-cab.

Similarly, would you question the cleanliness of a grocery store if as you are walking in, you see workers who look dirty and sweaty unloading a produce truck? That first impression might make you second-guess your choice of a food store.

That is why it is so important that every employee make a good impression at all times. As Ron Zemke noted: to the customer, you are the company.

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