Five Tips to Putting the Customer in Their Place

by Anita Pagliasso, President, Ticket To Travel-Host Agency

CEO Hal Rosenbluth chronicled the incredible success of his travel-services firm, Rosenbluth International, in his book…The Customer Comes Second.

Don’t you love the title? Sometimes don’t you wish it could be true? Well then, you may ask, “Who comes first”? The answer is elementary (my dear Watson). If you wish to really put your customers first, you must put your employees first MORE.

I can hear you now. But I don’t have employees. I am a one man (woman) show. I seek out the leads, I go networking, I do the calls, I follow up, I make the sales, I file tax returns, I send thank you notes. I am the CEO, VP of sales, the CFO, the PR director, the administrative assistant and the delivery boy all rolled into one. Heck, I even do Starbucks runs for the Boss (that would be you)….

And we wonder why we as home-based entrepreneurs can become cynical and stale?

The answer is simple. If you are the work force, you need to put YOURSELF first. If you burn out, if you crash, if you don’t find the answer to the question, “What’s the point of it all?” There will be no customers in the first place, to put in the first place!

What if we put rebirth at the top of our agendas? As the marketplace becomes more and more demanding, the pace more and more relentless, it becomes especially important to bolster the renewal process.

1. Take a Serious Daily Break: Find your moment in the day where you can step aside and gather your thoughts. Planned coffee breaks are one thing, but I am talking about a serious step aside and get collected. I love to walk. I will set my things down and take a brisk walk around the golf course where I live. For you, it could be a mid afternoon work out. Meditating… Jump rope… Take a bubble bath. Spend time on yourself to be rejuvenated. (Extended martini lunches – however good they may be for client networking – are strongly discouraged for this purpose).

Change your scenery. Have you considered relocating your office? Get your calls forwarded to your cell phone? Take your laptop and find your local coffee shop. Sometimes, a change of scenery does wonders to get your life back in focus. All of a sudden, you will find clarity and order in the enormous task list as you sip your second latte and breathe in the fresh air.

2. Call Time Out: Turn off your cell phone and computer. Put the imaginary “closed” sign on your office and spend some time with the ones you love. Go to the movies with your kids, or send your kids to the movies and have dinner with your loved one. Take an hour to read a book or catch up on reading the travel trade magazines. Call on a friend.

3. Do some Spring Cleaning: Get a paper shredder and start getting rid of all the paper and files you don’t need. I sometimes take my stacks of papers and sort them in order of priority while watching TV. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish during a 60 second commercial. There is great merit in inducing a feeling of order and creating a fresh start.

4. Attend a Seminar or a Travel Related Workshop: Go away for a bit. Meet other professionals in a fun and work environment. Make new friends, rub shoulders with the others in your business. Take a break, swap stories. It’s fundamental to see what else is out there and what else is being done that works. Restructure your strategy and come back to a more productive work method.

5. Reward Yourself: Do something that you consider rewarding. Corporations spend millions of dollars on perks and incentives to boost employee productivity. Spa treatments for your work force (a.k.a. YOU) would be a well justified expense. Get some fresh cut flowers. (Yes… even you MEN!).

Bonus Tip! Start Smiling and Caring. When going to a coffee shop, I detest being made to feel like just another order and a mispronounced name being called out. I don’t know about you, but I like to receive a smile with my latte. You owe your clients a smile during each phone call or meeting. Just try being stressed, mad or angry while smiling. It’s impossible.

Care is an emotion and it cannot be delegated, nor can it be faked. Care is what your customers want to see from you. If it shows that you take the time to take care of yourself, you will take the time to take care of them and that is why they will keep coming back to you.

Click here to read Anita’s bio.