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What Gandhi Taught Us About Customer Service

What Gandhi Taught Us About Customer Service

by Bill JobsJune 13, 2013

How many times can you remember someone going out of their way or above-and-beyond the call of duty to help you? If you have more than a handful of occasions, you are very lucky. The problem is that we have just forgotten how to be nice to each other, and that is never more obvious than in customer-facing roles. A pleasant experience is the exception rather than the norm in most retail outlets, and that is a shame because we always remember a good experience, but we remember the bad ones too. If your business depends on customers having a good experience by enjoying their interaction with your sales staff (and what business doesn’t), you need to make sure your staff gives the right impression.

Gandhi – Master of Inspiration

Gandhi was a very humble man of great intelligence who rubbed shoulders with world leaders and paupers alike, but treated them all equally. Of all the great things he said, the following is one of the most fitting and insightful things ever spoken about business.

[quote_box author=”Mahatma Gandhi” profession=””]A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.[/quote_box]

So how has a concept so simple and so true been lost over time? All people have the ability to take your sales to levels they have only read about in monthly company newsletters. Everyone can hit targets people thought were unattainable. Often, it just needs a little re-focusing of priorities to get people onboard.

How Do You Influence Minds and Conquer Hearts?

There’s no point in telling your staff to act a certain way if you are not prepared to do the same. How many times have you asked someone to help you in a shop and they have called someone else? Managers love to delegate, but why should a manager of one of your stores be unable to serve a customer? As Gandhi said, the customer is doing us the favor and we should appreciate that favor, not dismiss it as below our pay scale.

Leadership is About Respect

Employees cannot respect someone they see as lazy and anyone who is not willing to face customers, go the extra mile in every role in a store or otherwise expect them to perform tasks they would not perform is unlikely to win hearts.  Even leaders sometimes need to be led because it is easy for people to accumulate bad habits, and performances are eroded when you are too close to the trees to see the forest. I hate clichés, but it’s true that new managers often get instantly improved results when they take over a department or store. This is because it is a different challenge and they have none of the complacency suffered by the previous manager.

Should Heads Roll?

Absolutely not! If you sack managers to gain improved results, you need to ask yourself if their failure is actually your failure. Should you have trained them or led by example? Cultivating a winning team is not a one flip-chart meeting per week event; it is all about being active in your role. Studying stats and conversion rates will only tell you what other people are doing, but imagine what the stats would tell you if you could do something every day to influence them.

Bill Jobs is a writer who believes that Gandhi is right in what he said about the role of the customer and the server. If you feel that your company’s levels of customer service could improve, you should consider sending your staff on a course created by specialists like Dramatic Solutions.

About The Author
Bill Jobs