by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
In 1924 America's first crooner, red-hot pop star Rudy Vallee (and his Connecticut Yankees band) had the nation humming along with the catchy rhythm of his latest hit: "How come you do me like you do, do, do?"
The legions of liberated "flappers" who followed Vallee everywhere (unleashing a national debate about the "new woman") sang along with America's boy next door:
"Why do you try to make me feel so blue? I ain't done nothing to do!"
"You better treat me right, or let me be! 'cause I can beat you doing what you're doing to me."
It was a phenomenon, and a golden marketing model was born that in due course produced Crosby, Como, and Sinatra.
The flappers, and Vallee himself, are now history... but the song's lyrics carry on as insistent questions customers ask business owners worldwide:
"WHY do you do me like you do, do, do? WHY do you do me like you do?"
Your customers are talking about you. Do you like what they're saying?
Now hear this: EVERY customer who steps through your door, calls you on the telephone, writes or emails you is going to talk about what happened. Were they treated properly, professionally, promptly.... or was it a case of "Why do you do me like you do, do, do?" Remember, what they say is a direct result of what you do. Thus, you have it in your power to ensure that they never say -- and you never suffer from them saying -- ANY of these:
1) "They never returned my call!"
Not so long ago, every business made it a point to return calls promptly and have the information the customer needed readily at hand when they did. No longer. Now, there is not even the pretense by most businesses that they return every telephone call... much less promptly and thoroughly.
Yet, let's be clear, customers WANT their calls returned... and they are certain to complain to friends and family when YOU don't!
Make it a point to return all calls within 24 hours, even if you only report that you are working to get what the customer wants. The returned call itself signifies volumes!
2) "I filled out their online questionnaire and heard nothing."
This really bugs your customers... and rightly so. This is how the customer reckons: "you posted a questionnaire on your web site. I took the time and trouble to complete it. Then nothing, absolutely nothing, from you." Oh, yes, you can be sure the customer will tell the people he knows with a "can you believe this?" slant to a tale which you may be sure will lose nothing in the telling.
3) "They promised to send me... but never did!"
Customers are literal. They expect you to do what you say you're going to do... and they will shout it from the mountain tops when you don't. So, do.
If you can handle the customer's request today, do so. If you can't, then explain to the customer when she may expect to hear from you.
Don't just promise action, however; deliver it. Otherwise, in the words of the song "why do you try to make me feel so blue? I ain't done nothing to you." Believe me; they will start doing something, something you won't like, if you don't come through!
4) "They never told me what was happening."
When a customer says this, what they are really saying is this: "Can you believe this? Can you believe that those yahoos would treat ME like this... ME the all-important customer?" In short, the customer will make it clear to everyone who will listen that you are little better than a jerk and certainly far from delivering the prompt professional service they have every right to expect. Ouch!
Solution? If you want to impress your customer, instead of providing the fuel for the fire that ends up scorching you, then follow-up and keep the customer in the loop. Always.
5) "I waited and waited for service while the staff gossiped about what they did over the week-end."
Want your customers to see red... and tell the world? Then ignore them. Don't bother to show your staff how to treat customers; don't treat them properly yourself. Just continue to ignore them while chatting away. This is an absolutely sure-fire way to lose a customer and launch a stream of comments, the worse because they are absolutely true.
You and your staff do gossip in front of customers.
Indeed, you seem to not even see the customers, much less regard them.
As a result, thoughtless, avoidable rudeness by rudeness you are helping your customers create the negative image that kills your profits and enriches your competitors. Ouch again!
6) "He was texting his girl friend while I waited for assistance!"
Inappropriate and untimely text messaging has become a worldwide problem and a sure-fire way to get your customers to bad-mouth you and your business.
Be assured that if you text message in front of customers, particularly about personal matters, you will tap into the rich, inexhaustible vein of customer irritation, exasperation, and rage. Text in front of customers, and you can be sure the customer will retaliate in ways that hurt your bottom line. Count on it! "cause I can beat you doing what you're doing to me!"
7) "He left for a break right in the middle of 'helping' me!"
More avoidable customer exasperation and disbelief. OK, so you want your break! OK, you "need" that cigarette... or that sugar high RIGHT NOW. But must you make your feelings about your acute boredom with and disdain for customers quite as clear as you do by walking away from them when you're supposed to be assisting?
We live in rude, vulgar, selfish, acute me-centered times. These are getting worse and worse as general acceptance of boorish behavior grows. Customers, however, continue to expect businesses like yours to exhibit service and civility... the more so since they get so little of it otherwise.
So, WHY do you do your customers like you do, do, do when they are the life blood of your business? WHY do you allow behaviors and actions which not only irritate customers but hurt yourself and your business? You see, every negative situation cited above is entirely avoidable. Instead of doing things which infuriate customers, start singing them Rudy Vallee's greatest hit -- "My time is your time" . With that as your focus, they'll stop moaning "How come you do me like you do, do, do?" and start whistling a tune you'll like a whole lot better.
Rudy Vallee's Official Web Site: For biographical details about the man who made the megaphone and raccoon coats fashionable, America's first crooner, visit www.rudyvallee.com