In the 1980s and 1990s, businesses across the country were taught the now-common-mantra that “The customer is king.” This mindset established a couple of principles that everyone in business was to follow:
- Any product or service’s design, production, distribution, marketing, and advertising should have the customer as the central focus for all decision-making
- The customer is boss
- The customer is always right
The evidence is clear: employees and service providers who really believe that the customer is king do a better job at delivering service and establishing greater customer loyalty. At the same time, experience has also shown that the customer is not always right—especially in complex, high tech, high frequency, high touch industries. Stu Leonard’s, the veritable grocer whose headquarters is in Connecticut, asks the question: “Is the customer always right? No, but our job is to make them feel right!”
All of this means that good service creates good customers; good customers create stability, revenue growth and job security. But is the reverse true? Do good customers receive good service precisely because they are good customers? Put yourself not in the service provider’s shoes for the moment, but in the customer’s shoes. This perspective is important because in the aviation industry, we all have suppliers and vendors on whom we rely to do our jobs or serve our customers. We pay these suppliers and vendors good money to deliver on promises so that we can run our businesses. Perhaps you work in an FBO, and your suppliers are caterers or fuel suppliers. If you work in a flight department, you probably buy fuel and flight planning services from another organization? As a pilot, technician or flight attendant, you surely buy simulation training.
When you buy all of these services, are you getting what you want, what you need, and what you expect? Does your service provider constantly surprise you by going above and beyond what you expect? If this is happening to you, the truth is that it is probably, at least in part, because you are a good customer.
Could the opposite be true if you are not receiving good service? Could it be that you are not a good customer? Are you polite? Are you cordial? Are you respectful? Do you ask people or do you order people? Being a good customer has a lot more to do with how we treat people than just being a good payer or paying the bills on time or paying the asking price.
What does it take to be a good customer?
Take a moment now to think about your best customers and write down some words or phrases that describe them.
Here is a common list people come up with in this exercise:
- They communicate their expectations very clearly
- When things change, they tell us—they give us a heads up whenever possible
- Honest, polite
- They do not make assumptions
Interestingly enough, all of these qualities are the same ones that describe good customer service delivery. While good customer service delivery is a product of many factors, it is reasonable to suggest that customers who exhibit the qualities above will likely receive excellent service in return. Such customers realize that communication is a two-way street. And though they might expect to be treated like kings, it is likely that they are “good” kings.
In customer service, there is a saying that what you give is what you get. This applies to you as a service provider, but perhaps just as importantly, it applies to you as a customer. If you communicate well and treat your service providers respectfully, it is very likely that you somehow find that you are the recipient of good service or sometimes even exceptional service. It is also very likely that you find yourself feeling that the money you spend on your suppliers and vendors is well worth the value they provide back to you. This is no coincidence.
So, are you a good customer?