Your most important customer is the one you have in front of you right now.

Lauderbaugh & Associates

"Reap the Harvest through

by JJ Lauderbaugh, CMC

As business people, this time of year causes us to stop and reflect. I'm reflecting on the companies in which our empowerment training has made a positive difference in customer satisfaction. This is the true harvest of our labors and we should be reaping it all year long.

Sometimes our harvest doesn't happen because we're stuck in old ways of managing our people, products and services. We hear about relationship management and selling; and empowering our front line people to treat our employees and customers royally, but because we're fearful of chance and the unknown, we stay the same. We don't reach out planting our seeds of service until our charts go flat and we notice the competition harvesting their customer satisfaction and profits that could be ours.

From that stuck position, fear has been called false evidence appearing real. It's also been called the culprit to our lack of sales and management decisions. With the elimination of fear, our (brain) endorphins start flowing, making us supremely powerful to gain confidence and trust for needed changes. This can put us back in the competition, planting seeds and harvesting extraordinary customer satisfaction. Ask yourself, what's the worst that could happen if you make changes? What's the likely outcome if you continue as you have been? Taking a risk means growth and there's no harvest until after the growing time.

A year ago, Vasona Stationers in Los Gatos, California took a risk for growth and they've been harvesting their customer satisfaction for months. Here is part of a letter I recently received.

"We want to take this time to thank you for helping us to start an upward trend in our business."

In May, June and July, our sales were flat and after hearing you speak at the National Office Products Association show in San Francisco, we decided you could help us turn things around, and you did!

With your enthusiasm and skills at interviewing our employees in the needs assessment, before doing the training sessions, you helped us see we needed to empower our employees and be more positive ourselves.

With your help, our sales went up the rest of the year with 5.5% in August, 6.6% in September, October the earthquake crumbled our growth temporarily, 7% in November and 8% in December. The monthly growth has continued and last month, May, we were up 15%.

Every day we are reminded of your messages, 'If you have time to lean, you have time to clean, have fun and greet each customer as a friend, give value added service, something more than expected, be honest with your thoughts and feelings, be fully present, have pride and know you're important to the success of the business.'

Success is contagious." JoAnne Hersch, Co-owner, Vasona Stationers.

As successful managers, we need to have a belief and trust in people, to truly empower our front line for superlative customer care. Tom Peters, author of "Thriving on Chaos," recently wrote he felt doubtful about those at the top saying they have a "bone-deep belief in people" when their customers encounter pettiness at the front line. Employee empowerment includes pride of ownership and self value, also called self esteem, and it's up to us to build both. Our harvest will come only after we help our people feel they are a part of something very important, filling our customers' needs.

Copyright 1997 - 2012
JJ Lauderbaugh, CMC

JJ Lauderbaugh is an international speaker, trainer and consultant
who specializes in customer service management.
JJ may be reached at:

Phone (408) 445-1590



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