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Service and Hospitality in the Business World:
The Value of Keeping Customers

By Julie Yates, The Daily Times, Pryor, Okla.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Sept. 02, 2010--PRYOR -- Pryor Chamber of Commerce members learned about the value of keeping customers.

Kin Thompson, an instructor and program coordinator at Northeastern State University, spoke at a luncheon Wednesday.

Thompson is the program coordinator for the hospitality and tourism management department at NSU in Tahlequah. A popular speaker at business conferences and seminars, he also serves on multiple state and regional boards.

Thompson said within the first seven seconds of meeting someone, you make approximately 11 assumptions about that person. These assumptions may include age, ethnicity, political or religious views, financial status, professionalism, social skills and the integrity or trustworthiness of the individual.

"That first impression is huge," Thompson said. The hard truth, he said, is people are quick to make assumptions. "They are forming opinions. Like it or not, that's the truth of it."

Thompson said in the business world, a customer's question is "Can you meet my needs?" He said customers are concerned about a business having what they need at the time they need it.

"You sell value," said Thompson, "or you don't sell anything at all."

Customers define value in their own terms, Thompson said. To satisfy a customer, a business should look at services through their eyes.

Thompson said if something keeps the customer from getting the value he expects, he hasn't received what he paid for, and he knows it. One example could be purchasing a loaf of bread only to arrive home and discover it is stale.

"Dissatisfied customers aren't problems; they're golden opportunities," Thompson said. He encouraged businesses to take an extra step to make that unhappy client or customer return. Giving them a fresh loaf of bread isn't good enough; they need to be given an extra loaf of bread.

Thompson said a company should always provide the customer with a positive reason for dealing with it again.

"Always treat a customer as if he will remain a customer," he said. "Give them a reason to come back to you."

Thompson referred to picky, demanding customers as "platinum opportunities."

"Keep them satisfied and you're in business for life," he said.

Thompson said the focus should be on saving the customer, not saving the sale.

"Honest comments are doing you a favor," he said. Thompson said the companies that thrive and prosper and feel good about their business are consistently satisfying their customers.

Thompson made another strong point for business owners and managers: "Your frontline people won't treat your customers any better than you treat your frontline people."

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To see more of The Daily Times or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.pryordailytimes.com.

Copyright (c) 2010, The Daily Times, Pryor, Okla.

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