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Thursday, June 25, 2009

U.S. MID-ATLANTIC: The Power of Good Customer Service

by Bruce Newman
U.S. Mid-Atlantic Bureau Chief
(New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, DC)

Customer service should always be considered an important part of networking. No longer is it realistic to gain (or retain) a client solely through successful networking. I have seen too many instances when companies have worked very hard to land new clients, only to let them fritter away through poor customer service and inattentiveness.

Recently, one of our clients required a substitute for Crystal Enterprise, a very expensive software program (exceeding well beyond $15,000). Since they didn’t require most of its functionality, they did not want to incur its expense and overhead. As such, we looked into many alternatives.

We spoke with numerous companies, downloaded several programs and extensively tested their functionality – all of which took a considerable amount of time. Most notably, our efforts were largely futile, resulting in much frustration by both the client and ourselves.

After weeks of searching, we found Origin Software from a Google advertisement – proof that advertising does work. We loaded their system, extensively tested it – and it also didn’t do what we wanted. However, as a result of our frequent communications, they implemented the changes we needed in their software - which could also help their current and future clients. We worked closely with them, testing each new release as it appeared.

As of this writing, they are working on and nearing completion of this product which we expect to be able to present to our client in the very near future.

What was accomplished by this endeavor?

* We will have a happy client.
* Origin Software made a sale.
* Good communication was essential for a successful outcome.
* A long term relationship was built.

We didn’t find Origin Software through networking - the vehicle was advertising. They could have been non-responsive or uncommunicative. Instead, they listened to us and worked us. As a result, we will work with them again and network for them. (Hopefully, they will also network for us.) A high degree of trust was constructed.

The lessons here are very simple:

Whenever you are speaking with a prospect, the ability to convert them into a loyal customer – and then retain them - depends on your ability to consistently listen and communicate.

Furthermore, if you want them to tout your expertise (i.e. communicate and NETWORK), always be ready to support them and do an outstanding job.

Too many people in the networking arena forget these crucial tasks and instead, merely collect business cards and followers without providing the real value that companies require.

Bruce Newman, an expert on consulting, is the mid-Atlantic editor for The National Networker and Vice President at The Productivity Institute, LLC. The Productivity Institute has provided consultant and client-centered solutions that significantly increase productivity and profitability to small and mid-sized companies since 2000. P.S. We also walk dogs. Subscribe to our informative and free newsletter (circ 7,000+). Bruce can be contacted at

For more information, please visit Bruce's TNNW Bio.

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