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Glenford Smith
Career writer

The global financial meltdown has made glaringly obvious the need for exceptional customer service to survive in business. Business guru Peter Drucker maintains that the purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer. Customers are the lifeblood of a business. Creating customers - people who buy - and keeping them is a valued and valuable job.

If you possess the basic qualifications and superior skills in winning customers and making them happy, then customer service may just be right for you.

According to global business consulting giant Bain and Company, it takes five or six times more to win a new customer than to keep a current one; and businesses can boost profits by 100 per cent by retaining just five per cent more of their customers. In other words, retaining just two per cent more of customers has the same effect on profits as cutting costs by 10 per cent. This is why winning companies focus on the lifetime value of a customer, rather than merely 'making a sale.'

So, you're asking: how does this help me to land a customer-service job? It's simple: position yourself - in your application, and at the interview - as a superior performer in turning prospects into buyers, and buyers into loyal, satisfied customers. These are the qualities of star customer-service performers that you will need to demonstrate you possess.

Customer-service stars concentrate on what customers want, and give it - and then some. Customers want speed, convenience, choice, value. They want you to solve their problems how and when they want them solved. This requires that you be a good listener. Don't assume you know what your customer wants; ask questions, and pay attention to the answers. Ultimately, customers want to know you care.

Absolute accountability

Here's the shortcut to losing a customer, if ever there was one: make excuses, or try to pass on blame to someone else who didn't do this or that. As far as the customer is concerned, you are the company. He/she don't care about what department did what, or which person is responsible for the delay, or whatever. All the customer cares about his/her problem. You must assume total responsibility for winning the customer, no matter what. Remember the words of Bill Gates, "When you lose a customer, you lose two ways: one, you don't get the money, and two, your competitor does."

Belief in your product

You will never go the extra mile to get past the innumerable nos you will hear from prospects, or the angry complaints of dissatisfied customers, without an unshakeable belief in your product to change your customer's life.

If possible, never try to sell a product or service you don't believe in. You will only be mediocre, at best. Passion is power. Care enough for your customer that you refuse to take no for an answer or leave his welfare up to your competitor.

Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and personal performance trainer. Email him at

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