What it Means to be a Service Business

by Roger Boor

On more than one occasion recently, businesses have boasted
that they’ll:

  • Deliver what they promise
  • Complete the work on time
  • Not go over budget

Well, guess what, Mr./Ms. Business Owner – that’s the very least we expect. You FAIL!

Everyone should be required to work in a service-related business for at least a short while in their lifetime. Serving the public in a retail setting or waiting tables builds character while teaching compassion and patience. It can also breed contempt and cause an erosion of our confidence in humanity. Consumers can be intolerable at times. What better way to learn life lessons?

For those of us choosing to own and operate businesses that rely on interacting directly with the public, it’s important that we understand our roles in the food chain. No one has forced us to engage with the public. We’ve chosen to work in this field. Now, that’s not to say folks don’t sometimes take the adage of “The Customer is Always Right” to extremes when demanding satisfaction, but nonetheless, we should embrace these individuals as the opportunities they are to strengthen our relationships and make our businesses better.

Too many service providers behave as if we can’t live without them. Nothing could be further from the truth. If not supremely satisfied, we will most certainly take our business elsewhere. How can I possibly expect my clients to feel any differently? The onus is on us to make customers want to pay for our services and not someone else’s. So how do we do that? Consider the following suggestions when serving others.

How to be a better service provider:

1. Ask Good Questions – sometimes it’s not enough to simply make a sale. Dig a little deeper to find out just how much help you can offer. Customers will remember you for asking the right questions.

2. Listen – the questions won’t matter if you’re not paying attention to the answers. To be a better problem solver, you’ve got to be a better listener.

3. Be Positive – don’t ever tell a customer their request can’t be fulfilled. Never say “It can’t be done.” Always say “I’ll find a way to help you.”

4. Stay Organized – customers often engage professionals when they’re confused or overwhelmed. Help by keeping yourself and your thoughts organized. Be a calming influence and a patient guide for those that might be slightly discombobulated.

5. Take Action – when the talking is done, move! Don’t point someone in the right direction, lead them to their destination. Get out from behind the counter or roll up your sleeves and contribute to the solution.

6. Over-Deliver – don’t be guilty of providing the bare minimum. When serving someone, take a moment to think what might make it a better experience – then make it happen.

As business owners, we can sell products, services, or both. When we choose to sell our services, it should be with an attitude of humility and grace. When someone engages us for our expertise, it’s an honor. If we don’t respect that gift and serve to the fullest of our abilities, we fail. And we don’t just fail our customers. We fail ourselves, our reputations, and the entire industry of hardworkding, over-delivering service providers that make up this community.

It’s not easy to be a great service business. Personally, I aim for making my clients hugely successful. If I can contribute to their great success, my business will thrive.

When you choose to provide a service to others, it is implied that you care. So remember this – clients won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

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