Be a Customer, Notice What Works


When buying something, have you ever dealt with a salesperson that made you miserable? Or you saw how hard they made something which really could have been much easier?

What a waste of time, energy, goodwill, and sometimes money too!

Now, step back.  Do your clients or colleagues ever think the same about you? Discuss it openly with yourself and BE HONEST, particularly about faults (after all, this will be a private discussion with just yourself, so you can’t be wrong or look foolish to others).

Customer making a purchaseI see so many people follow a system or policy “to the letter” or simply do things because “that’s how we’ve always done things.” What? Did you ride a mule to work this week? After all, that was how many people got to work for centuries. Things should change, including our approach.

I also see people that are BORING in their approach. They are not boring to themselves, but everyone else is looking for an escape!

If you are talking to someone that does not have your common passion for your service or product, are you and your material really interesting and really valuable? Do you make the common uncommon? Few honestly do.

Granted, most folks working to sell something or make a point are nice folks. They have nice business cards, nice brochures, a nice website and nice flyers, nice signs, nice kids, and even a nice dog or cat. Guess what? So do most of the other people your potential clients will talk to this week. Nice is, well, nice. But think of how many “nice” salespeople and customer service staff you’ve spoken to in the last year and already forgotten.

Now, this is not a suggestion to be rude or obnoxious. Quite the opposite. Be nice and INTERESTING and of VALUE. Be so interesting that strangers will call you because someone you met shared your contact information. Be so valuable that you are seen as an opportunity to others.

For example:

I like to go to a fast-food hamburger restaurant near my office for lunch. You order at the counter and the staff that work at the register are fantastic.

  • They look and sound happy
  • They have a REAL smile
  • They look directly at you (not always down at the register or around the room)
  • They speak clearly and loud enough to hear
  • They respond thoughtfully when you speak to them
  • They know their products
  • They are very patient with EACH customer
  • They are thorough and still efficient
  • They politely admit their mistakes
  • They offer THOUGHTFUL suggestions
  • They will laugh with you
  • And they remember you!

These people are nice, interesting, and genuinely interested in the customer beyond the decision to add fries. An interesting thing to me is that this has become UNCOMMON at fast-food hamburger restaurants. But because it is uncommon, it is memorable, pleasant and builds my loyalty.

I not only like the food, I like going there and I like bringing friends, colleagues and even, on occasion, clients. And it helps me remember the basics I see so many seasoned pros forget: smile, be friendly, be interested, be interactive, be thoughtful of all. I went for the food but I enjoy coming back because of the “sales people.”

Simple? Yes. Important? VERY.

When you are a customer, you can practice observing and learning everyday from those that do things right. As a customer you can really learn what is effective and what is a turn-off. Then remember these lessons when you work with your current and potential clients, colleagues, and vendors!


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.