We’ve all had our share of stellar and awful customer experiences.

I’ve been wowed by Five Guys, blown away by Apple, amazed by the consistency in going over and above at Wegmans, and pleasantly surprised by a leadership moment at Holiday Inn.

On the flip side, I’ve had my share of unhappy outcomes with bad companies.

Without question, Erie Insurance wins the trophy for the most unethical customer experience of my adult life. Dealing with them made my skin crawl. Ya, it was that icky. (Never, I mean never, buy a policy from Erie Insurance.)

I called the President of Erie Insurance to resolve the issue only to get his executive assistant. How can I put this. They defended their policyholder’s lies  and twisted the facts on behalf of their client. “Sounds like you’re peeing down my leg and telling me it’s raining” is what I said to the EA. Believe me, if you had the same circumstances, you would have said something much worse.

What made each of these customer experiences memorable, good or bad, was how I was treated by the person representing the organization.

If you’re the face to the customer, it’s up to you provide the best experience. At that moment, you represent the brand. Give the customer a reason to say, “I’d be out of my mind to do business with anyone else.”

Photo courtesy of Roland Tanglao.

Today’s guest post is courtesy of Steve Keating (CME, CSE,) Selling Skills Manager for Toro Company. 

You Represent More Than You Think – by Steve Keating

Know it or not, wherever you work, you represent that company to outsiders. It matters little if you’re at the top of the org chart or even at the very bottom. If you’re one of the only people they know at your company then for all intense and purposes YOU ARE the company.

The reputation of the entire organization can rest on your shoulders.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re in the market for a Flat Panel TV before the big game on Sunday. You swing into XYZ electronics, a large national electronics chain store and pick out a gigantic 196 inch beauty. It has surround sound and some sort of shaking device so you can actually feel it when players hit the ground. It is simply awesome!

You have your friends over on Sunday and since you’ve been bragging up your 196 beast of a TV they too can hardly wait for the game to begin. You push the ON button and nothing happens. Nothing. You push it a few more times, still nothing and then the hoots and hollers of your “friends” begin.

Ha they say, that sure is one heck of a TV you got there. You are embarrassed and more than a little mad. So…. You call the XYZ store and as luck would have it you get a 16 year old kid on the phone who is absolutely disinterested in your problem. He tells you it would be best if you called back on Monday when the “TV guy” was in.

Now you’re VERY unhappy and you’re not going to be happy with that store, or that kid, anytime soon.

A couple of weeks later someone asks if you know of a good store to buy a TV. So what do you say? Do you say, “yes, XYZ is great, just look out for that 16 year old kid” or… do you say “don’t go near that XYZ outfit, “they” don’t have a clue what they are doing.

If you’re like me, and most people, you wouldn’t have anything good to say about anything that has anything to do with XYZ or it’s 50,000 employees around the country.

Because of one 16 year old kid. Who didn’t even sell you the TV.

It’s not fair that the whole organization is painted with the brush of one individual interaction but that’s often how it is.

You see, you not only represent your company, you also represent your fellow employees of the company. You may not be in Public Relations, you may not get paid to deal with customers but when people discover where you work you DO represent your company. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All day, everyday.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, can’t be yourself, or just “let your hair down.” It does mean that you need to be aware of your surroundings, who is near you, how you are behaving and what you are saying. I’m told there are even some people who have cameras in their phones now so this is doubly important these days.

Whether you think you have a crummy job, a menial job, a low paying job, whether it is a temp job, or part time job doesn’t matter, you have an obligation to represent yourself professionally because it’s not just you that you represent.

You may not like this thought, you may not agree with this concept but you do have to understand it because it’s true. Yes, I know those are high standards but you know that successful people set high standards for themselves. I encourage you to set the bar very high for yourself.

Remember, you don’t guard the reputation of your company and your colleagues because you’re paid money to work there, you do it because it’s the right thing to do.

You’ll never go wrong doing what’s right!

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