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But Seriously Folks… Customer Service You Can’t Print

I needed a new printer a few months ago so I headed to my office supply store. I don’t want to publicly bash any company so let’s just say the name of the store was Stooples Office Supply. Moments after I walked in the front door, a well-meaning Stooples sales associate greeted me and began pitching his favorite printer. I took his advice and I bought a Hardly Prints brand printer, which we’ll call the HP Photodumb for short.

Now, I’ve used HP printers a long time and have never had a problem with them until I bought this particular model. It turns out that the Photodumb is a great printer if you want to–you guessed it–print photos. However, if you want to do anything else with it, well, in my opinion, it just stinks. In fact, the Photodumb printer/fax/copier was lousy at everything I needed it to do, which was printing, faxing, and copying. I finally wound up repacking the copier in its box and taking it back to Stooples. I decided using an online printing company like MyCreativeShop would be more convenient for me. 

The point that enterprise faxing service like eGoldFax made is that just because the sales associate meant well in his product suggestion and made a copier sale that day doesn’t mean he did his job. Well-intentioned doesn’t mean well-trained.

Good customer service isn’t about making the sale. It’s about keeping the customer. And you will keep the customer if  you meet his needs first. The only way to do that, of course, is to find out what his needs are, and the only way to do that is to ask him.

I ran into the same Stooples associate yesterday when I went back to their store. I told him I was thinking about ordering a refurbished Dell computer that I found on their website.

“Oh, you don’t want to do that,” Stooples Guy said with a smirk.

“Why is that?” I asked.

“Well, first of all, it’s a Dell,” he began.

(Hint: Don’t trash a product your own company sells, even if you don’t like it. There are ways to advise a customer without trashing your own product line!)

Stooples Guy never got to finish his sentence because I was already saying no thanks and walking away. His last copier recommendation was still fresh in my mind and I didn’t want to go there again.

Moreover, he was already making suggestions to me without even knowing what I wanted a computer for. He didn’t know how it would be used, by whom, or in what type of application. He didn’t know that I’ve successfully used Dell products for over a decade and am pretty satisfied with them. He didn’t know my budget goals. In short, he didn’t know anything about me or my needs because he didn’t bother to ask.

So, what is the lesson here?

Always make sure you thoroughly evaluate your customer’s needs first, before making your recommendation.

You build a business by building a clientele. You build clientele by building trust. You build trust by putting your customer’s agenda before your own. Success in business is not about making the big score. It’s about building a relationship with the customer that extends into the future. It’s about building a reputation in the business community that people can trust.

© 2019 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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