Not long ago, I wrote an article that featured Todd Hopkins, CEO of Office Pride, and his concept of core values being a decision filter. I had the chance to interview him for Amazing Business Radio and he dropped another big concept on us that’s worth bringing to our followers. He talked about an agreement he makes with all his new customers and employees, an upfront agreement tied to future communication.
Essentially, Todd asks his new customers to agree in writing that if there is ever an issue, problem, complaint, question – anything that impairs the customer’s experience – that they will communicate it with either Todd or another employee. The goal is to fix problems before they fester and become bigger than they need to be. Todd says, “If a customer isn’t happy, we want them to let us know. If they let us know, then we can fix it.”
That seems like common sense, but Todd knows that customers don’t always tell us when there’s a problem or issue. How many times have you wished you could be honest with someone about how you felt, but held back out of worry or fear of their reaction? This applies to both personal and professional relationships. Customers do the same thing; they keep quiet. They never say a word. Then one day they just disappear; they stop doing business with us. But we thought they were happy! They didn’t complain!
That’s why Todd has his upfront agreement. It’s in writing – in his contract. He makes it clear that when customers contact him when they’re unhappy, their problem will be taken care of with no hard feelings or defensive behavior – from either party.
Todd is emphatic about this strategy for communication, stating, “When it comes to customer service, I believe in establishing that upfront agreement. It sets you up for a beautiful relationship for years to come. Having that upfront agreement about how we’ll communicate has saved us so much heartburn.”
Not only does Todd believe this is important for customers, he also knows how effective it is for employees. The “open door” policy of communication for employees has served him well. He finds out what’s on the employee’s mind; if there is a way to work it out, they will. He fosters open dialogue that creates a positive culture for his company.
That’s the underlying lesson here – company culture. By nurturing that open workplace communication and positive company culture, Todd sets up his business for success. What’s felt on the inside of a company will radiate through to the outside. Having a solid system of communication will facilitate this flow, make everyone’s lives easier, and ensure a positive customer experience. Consider drafting an upfront agreement for your business and see how it shapes your future.
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken