Tips in this issue:

* How company fears turns customers away and reduce sales.
* How good customer care is more important NOW than ever!


Tips for Business & Life: Keeping Your Cool With Customers -
During Uncertain Times

How many times in this last year have you noticed that people have been hard
to deal with in business? Whether we're the customer or the business, we're
finding people are stressed, tense and sometimes irate with us.

Where's the hospitality? Where's the caring attitude? Where's the sincerity?

Where did it all go? It started with the dot com businesses folding,
followed by the downturn in the economy, then the falling stock market.,
terrorist attacks and recently, the possible war with Iraq.

A tremendous fear of the unknown has put its grip on us and when we operate
with fear, we never function at our best. We do and say things that pushes
people the opposite direction than we intended.


Twice in one week, two people told me about their car maintenance problems
that had never happened to them in past years. One was a small specialty car
repair shop and the other a repair facility of a major dealership.

Julie had been taking her car to the small shop for years. This time, the
owner seemed annoyed, bothered and almost rude in dealing with her. He did
mention that he was short handed as he had laid off some of his help because
the downturn. She said, "I understand that he's having a hard time now but,
when he recommended replacing all my engine belts and getting a tune up
soon, I began to doubt his integrity. The belts looked fine and the car was
running smoothly. I felt he was trying to sell me some things I didn't
really need. His fear and uncertainty has caused his behavior to change.

He's on the verge of losing me and I'm a long-time customer too. Suddenly, I
don't trust him anymore."

Ironically, the same week Mikey visited his large dealership repair shop and
was confronted with a similar situation, only more people were involved. He
said, "After my SUV was in the shop for three days, I called to see if it
was ready. To my surprise they told me I needed other repairs that would
cost an additional $650. The reps didn't seem to know what I had originally
taken the SUV in for and were telling me about other things that were wrong
with it. It was as if one hand didn't know what the other hand was doing
there. Finally after many phone calls, a week later the original problem
was satisfactorily fixed without additional charges.

Both Julie and Mikey were upset but said they would give the businesses
another chance to win back their trust. They also had become more aware of
other places they might take their cars to later.

Sometimes businesses get a second chance to right the wrong and sometimes
they don't. Get in the customer's shoes, be sincere and caring, and do it right
the first time.

Last Tuesday morning I was a patient having my yearly mammogram x-rays taken
at a nearby hospital. The technician turned an unpleasant and dreaded
experience into a very pleasant one. I've been having these x-rays done for
years and this was a first!

Laura was bright and cheerful even though she had been asked to squeeze me
into her already busy schedule. When a couple of things went wrong, she
quickly corrected them without negativity and proceeded to make me
comfortable and relaxed. I knew she cared and was determined to make me feel
like a queen by her taking full responsibility for my experience. Remember,
nobody cares how much you know about anything, until they know how much you
care about them.

Before I left the x-ray room, I said, "Laura, you have the best bedside
manner of any of the x-ray technicians!" She gave me a big smile and said
"thank you" as she headed out to help the next patient.

Laura probably had just as many fears and problems as the people in the
other businesses but she wasn't letting them change her attitude or behavior
with her patients.

When we see good service, we should say something to the giver of it as
people need and deserve our praise. Remember, behavior that is rewarded will
be repeated.

Laura has probably found ways to keep her stress and fears in control with
better balance. Her family's support, weekend diversion activities, changes
of scenery and lots of laughter help her create more balance through these
uncertain times. When we're out with nature, hanging with family and
friends, solutions to unsolved problems appear out of nowhere to light our

We can help each other accomplish balance and control with the little things
we do. An advanced sales consultant friend, Jim Pancero, sent me an email
the other day that contained several hilariously funny signs businesses have
displayed. Every one of them contained a humorous mixed message. I sat at my
computer and laughed and laughed when I read them. It felt so good, so
therapeutic that I forwarded them to my two daughters and some friends.

The next morning, my daughter Stacy called, and she was laughing so hard at
the signs that she wanted to share her joy and laughter with me. She said it
was just what she needed in her busy, stressful week of more new
uncertainties that had come her way.

Stacy and I agreed that we have been taking ourselves too seriously and it
was time to stop to count our blessings. Doing this would give us balance
and a fresh start on dealing with life's ups and downs. Then we can set a
good example in the way we help our irate customers, and keep ourselves from
becoming one too.

Smile and the whole world seems to smile with us, frown and the whole world
seems to frown with us. Test it for a day. What we dwell on and show to the
outside world is what we get in return. Extraordinarily, caring service to
each other and our customers is needed more now than ever before in our
lifetime. It's our competitive edge for business now and in the good times
to come for all of us.

Make a difference in someone's life today because they were with you! It
will make a big difference to your company and to your quality of life too.


 JJ Lauderbaugh, CPCM

408 866-7673 or 800 500-9656, 189 Altura Vista Dr., Los Gatos, CA 95032.

JJ works with companies that want to give world class service and with
Directors and Managers who want to grow their people. Specialties are
performance improvement, customer care, teamwork, up selling and soft

For training resources, free articles, tips and streaming video, go to our
web site at

Lauderbaugh & Associates, Inc., 2002