E-Communicator Article

The President's Column

by Steve Weitekamp

August 2013

I appreciate the opportunity to visit with members and observe their businesses in action. As one who speaks on behalf of our industry, time spent in the field is invaluable. Recently, I was standing at a mover's dispatch counter, watching the activity that was bustling around me. The day was going to be warm and the work load heavy, but everyone seemed to be on the same page and effectively pursuing their duties. A warehouseman noted that a supplier had dropped off a shipment and that after opening, it was discovered that the largest part of the delivery was different than ordered. Not to worry! The supplier had been contacted and would correct the error today. The morning was hectic and the mover needed the missing items, but they were making do. Then the supplier representative walked in, who seemed in a hurry and more than a little annoyed that his customer didn't have the item that his company had delivered in error, prepped and ready to go. Our member, taking this encounter in stride, made sure the vendor's representative was taken care of so he could get on his way. The rep seemed appeased and, as he walked out, stated that he was assigned cleanup jobs and that he had a busy day.


My takeaway from this encounter is that anyone and sometimes everyone in an organization, from initial contact through billing, has the opportunity to impact their company's relationship, present and future, with a customer. Is the customer always right? Anyone who has spent time dealing directly with the public already has an opinion. In our industry, by this time of year, dealing with difficult situations can take even greater self-control. This philosophy does not require one to tolerate abuse or disrespect, but empathy and understanding of the issues facing your customer can go a long way toward creating positive experiences that build loyalty.


It is important for leaders to regularly share their organization's philosophy on customer service with their team. This process can require more finesse than a discussion that preceding generations might have begun and ended with "the customer is always right." The-client-is-always-right philosophy can lead to employees feeling minimized by the company they work for, and subject to ridicule and abuse by a customer given a green light to vent. What is important to remember is that whenever we are in front of a customer (in person, over the phone or electronically), we are an ambassador for our company, impacting not only our own reputation, but that of our entire organization. I am frequently impressed by the way hardworking men and women in our industry meet this challenge on a daily basis.

August 2013 - CMSA Communicator

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