How do you serve your customers? Are you an order taker or an innovator? Are you a trusted partner or someone who provides service without the service quality delivery? No, this blog isn’t about the meaning of life. However, it is a consideration of whether you serve your customers in their best interests or not. Do you go to bat for them? Within your own corporate environment? Do you challenge your company to do their best on behalf of your customers?
If a customer is merely a means to an end, a commission, meeting a sales quota, then completing a job is the way you keep your own job. Well, that’s probably the status quo in your corporation. Sounds like slinging burgers in a fastfood chain.
Ask yourself: am I being paid to be mediocre? Can I really hide behind merely completing a job? Compared with doing a job “right”? Compared with bringing a job in on time, under budget, with modifications that positively impact your customer’s productivity and therefore their bottom line? Which is equated with their repeat business and loyalty?
If you are satisfied with being mediocre, or are functioning in a corporate culture that reinforces mediocrity – and you’re OK with that – you can stop reading this blog right now. Except I can’t see how any company that reinforces mediocre return on investment can expect to survive in this economy.
If you are talking with your customers, really discussing the full scope of their needs and deliverables in terms of their bottom line, then you are ENGAGED in service quality delivery. Which means if you encounter resistance within your own corporate culture that might negatively impact service quality delivery for your customer, you are prepared to defend their needs against your corporate culture. Because you understand that in serving the needs of your customer, your corporation will improve themselves as well. Which means you will advocate for your customer’s best interests. And you know what? Your CEO likes that. It takes guts, confidence, a plan for your customer, knowledge of your own corporate plan and leadership to stick your neck out on behalf of your customers. Especially in this economy.
Advocacy as defined by Wikipedia, is the art of influencing outcomes. To me, that sounds like manipulation. So I don’t buy that definition. Advocacy, in my mind, means taking on the challenges of others because you believe in their system of belief, their perspective, their worth. You believe that your time is worth spending in fostering their ideas within your own sphere of influence. You believe that you can improve yourself by working on their behalf.
Advocacy is gutsy service quality delivery. Advocacy is leadership moderated by common sense, experience and confidence.
Something to think about. The next time you serve your customers. Today? or Tomorrow?
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo and business- and revenue-producing collaboration and communication tools to small and mid-sized businesses and startups. She was named one of the Top 50 Sales & Marketing Influencers 2013. Her book, Do YOU Mean Business? focuses on technical / non-technical collaboration strategies and tools.