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Are you your own worst customer service enemy?

Tell me what these two scenarios have in common:

1] Not long ago, I got a call from a previous client who said I was one of the few humorous speakers they were inviting back to their conference. They had booked a club comedian the previous year who wasn’t used to speaking in the corporate market, but he had assured them that he could “clean it up” for their conservative business crowd.

Unfortunately, his idea of clean was to omit the F- and S-bombs, but he was firing every other obscenity and vulgarity known to man at the audience at point-blank range. Half of the people in the crowd were laughing nervously while the other half stared daggers at the hapless speaker. About ten minutes into his presentation, the host decided to walk up on the platform, take the microphone from the speaker’s hand, and stop the presentation.

The speaker was stunned. In his mind, he was doing a great job. He had no idea what he had done wrong or why his host would be unhappy with his performance.

2] I hired Chris a few weeks ago to fill in a couple of sink holes and re-grade my backyard. Over the ten days it took to complete the job (ten times the original estimate), I debated with myself about whether Chris was dishonest or merely incompetent. Everyday brought another series of mishaps, failed efforts, and broken promises. At the end, I was forced to stop payment on his final check because he just couldn’t manage to complete the job.

But even though he was AWOL most of the time, never finished a task, and left my yard looking like a tornado ran through it, Chris believed he did a great job and couldn’t understand how I could think otherwise.

Have you guessed what these two stories have in common? They both feature people who are their own worst enemies in regard to the prosperity of their business. How is it possible to be so out of touch with what your customer desires that you blunder so badly?

Don’t get me wrong. We all make mistakes, but people who are invested in their careers and financial well-being make sure they obey the following three rules:

1] Always measure your performance. Not by your average competitor, but by the best performer in your field. If you shoot for mediocrity and fall short, then you have produced a crummy product. If you shoot for being the very best but don’t quite make it, then you still have delivered a service or product that people will go out of their way to recommend.

2] Pay attention to customer feedback. Not only the good stuff, but also the negative feedback. It doesn’t feel good when it happens, but some of those negative comments can reveal weaknesses in your customer service that you didn’t know existed. In short, deliver an exemplary product and you’ll never want for business.

3] Always keep your word. If you can’t deliver on time, say so. If you don’t understand what your customer expects or needs, then say so. If there is a problem with the job, go ahead and talk about it with your customer. People don’t expect you to always be perfect, but they do expect you to be honest.

We all want to prosper. We all want financial freedom. Given that we all go to so much trouble to pay the bills and put money in the bank, why not be your own best friend, and deliver the type of customer service that gets you noticed for being the best instead of the worst?

© 2020 Charles Marshall. Charles Marshall is a nationally known humorous motivational speaker and author. Visit his Web site or contact him via e-mail at

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