Understanding the importance of customer creation over customer service

Before you put down this book or send me a note of protest about the title of this section, understand this caveat: You have to be excellent at customer development and customer service. However, in terms of priority, you have to be exemplary at client creation. Following are a few reasons:

i You can't serve customers if you don't create customers in the first place. And because customer service excellence results from customer service experience, customer development is a necessary prerequisite to outstanding customer service.

i Most consumers have been provided such poor service that their expectations are remarkably low. When service providers do what they said they'd do in the time frame that they agreed to do it, consumers are generally content with the service they receive. Certainly you want to develop the kind of expertise that delivers exemplary, outstanding service, but if you commit, from the get-go, to do what you said you'd do when you said you'd do it, your delivery will be better than most.

i Between creating customers and delivering service, customer creation is the more complex task. Customer creation requires sales skills and ongoing, consistent, and persistent prospecting for clients. To develop customers, you have to gain the level of skill and comfort necessary to pick up the phone and call people you know (or even people you don't know) to ask them for the opportunity to do business with them or to refer you to others who may be in the market for your service.

i If you attract the right kinds of customers into your business, your clients will match well with your expertise and abilities, and service will become an easier and more natural offering. If you attract the right type of customers, you'll also reap greater quantity and quality of referrals.

i The only alternative to devoting your time and energy to customer development is to guide people to your Web site, office, or phone line through costly advertising and promotional programs. This approach requires a lot of money and often generates low-quality and reduced-profit leads and a long sales cycle. Because this is hardly an effective formula to get a newer agent up and running in a hurry, I don't recommend it.

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