Friendly side of sales and service — the winning side

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Published: December 6,2004

No one will ever tell you that “friendly” will win the big sale. Not even me. BUT I guarantee that you will lose it if you’re not. Same in service.
Are you a friendly person?

Do you have friendly people in your company?
How many?

HINT: The number should be ALL!

How does “friendly” affect the outcome of a sales call?

How does “friendly” affect the outcome of a service call?

How does “friendly” affect the loyalty of a customer?

How does “friendly” affect the internal morale of a company?

How does “friendly” affect the profitability of a company?

How does “friendly” affect the reputation of a company?

The answer to all these questions is TOTALLY.
All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. All things being not quite so equal, people STILL want to do business with their friends.

Personally, I have entered a new era. I’m naming it “the friendly era.” I am going to start all conversations and do EVERYTHING I can to remain friendly regardless of the other person’s words or tone. And by the way, it’s working like a charm.

When someone gives me lousy service, rather than “hitting back,” I try to get them to smile. I try humor, I try friendliness, I try anything to change their mood.
Here are a few service examples of the yin-yang of friendly and unfriendly. Draw your own conclusions.

Airport scenario: I arrived early for my return flight. At the ticket counter I asked to take an earlier flight leaving in 30 minutes. The angry ticket seller said, “That flight is overbooked.” I said, “Is there any way I can get on that flight?” She said, “I told you that flight is overbooked.” I said, “Can you please put me on the wait list?” She reluctantly agreed giving me a boarding pass for the later flight. As I walked away from the counter I said, “You know it costs no extra money to be friendly.”

Because I was in New Jersey, I don’t think she got it.
As I was walked down the concourse I heard a page that said, “Jeffrey Gitomer, please report to the ticket counter.” I not only got on the flight, I had a first-class seat. The people at the gate were exceptionally friendly, for which I thanked them profusely.

Hotel scenario: I called central reservations for a large hotel. After seven minutes on hold, the agent said, “Sorry, we’re overbooked.” “Does that mean I don’t need a room?” I said. Three more minutes went by on hold, and I was rudely informed all hotels in that area were booked. Undaunted, I asked for a manager who was equally as unfriendly and uninformative. I then asked for his manger. He said that he reports to the hotel (not wanting to give me the name of his real boss). Still needing a room, after seven tries I finally got the name of his boss, requested a return phone call from him, and left a voicemail. It was as unfriendly a transaction as I’ve had in many years. I was trying to spend my money and they refused to take “Yes” for an answer.
The boss called the next morning at 10 am. They had recorded the previous day’s conversation. The boss listened to the conversation, booked me a room at the hotel that was overbooked and gave it to me for free. Recovery rocks. Friendly recovery with a pleasant surprise RULES (and keeps loyalty).

Restaurant scenario: I went to a local sports bar to watch my favorite football team play. The room was packed with other fans rooting for my team. When the game started, it was only being shown on one of the five televisions in the room, the smallest of the five. As a committed fan, I asked the manager if she could change one of the televisions and if the audio for the game could be played as well. Her reply was, “No, what you should have done is check our pamphlet on the way in to see what television the game is being shown on and sit in that room.” I said, “How was I supposed to know that?” She said, “Our hostess was supposed to greet you with a pamphlet on the way in.” I told her that didn’t happen. I said to her, “Look around the room. It is filled with fans that want to watch our game. Everyone is here wearing their jerseys and hats. Is it not your goal to accommodate your customers?” She said, “Sorry, it has been pre-decided which games are shown on the televisions and we can’t change it. That’s our policy.” I said, “So your policy is to make your customer’s unhappy?” She said, “Sorry, I can’t change it.” Despite the sea of fans that were in her restaurant. “Sorry, it’s been pre-decided. I can’t change the televisions. That’s our policy.” If she had only been friendly, she could have had me as a repeat customer. Instead, she chose to be unfriendly, and lost a customer for life.

These are selected examples of unfriendly service. You have had hundreds of them. My stories have probably made you think of some of yours. It’s amazing to me that no company has a mission statement that has the word “friendly” in it.

It costs no extra money to be friendly.
But it can cost a fortune if you’re not.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail
salesman@gitomer.com.

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