Make Your Customers Look Good

Fans of Basil Fawlty who are in the service industry will cherish what they learnt from Basil; and how we both laugh and cringe at the bumbling character of Basil as he manages to offend customers, employees and suppliers.

How often do each of us, as customers, experience service providers who are clueless?

Consider the case of an owner of a beach-frontage house in Byron Bay who, when seeking the advice of a local real estate agent, was told. “Oh no you won’t get over $1 million in this market.” She had her own idea: it was only one of a few dozen frontages and despite sluggish sales would have definite “scarcity” value. She offered the home to a buyer’s agent in Sydney who told her she ought to pitch the house as a “lifestyle home with holiday income potential”. This complimented her strategic thinking. He augmented the offering and got a share of the eventual commission.

She sold the property for $1.2m. Whose services will she use in the future? Not the first agent!

Closer to home

Some time ago my local council got a contractor to remake the road. Everything ran late. No communication with residents. Driveways left half done for two months. Dust and dirt. It had the obvious outcome of making the local council look bad. Why would they use the contractor again? Good communications and more customer care could have ameliorated any delays or problems.

How often do each of us, as customers, experience service providers who are clueless?

A smarter way

Now consider the other side of the spectrum where clients will go the extra mile to deal with people who make them look good. Imagine you are a “boutique” travel agent in Hong Kong handling discerning customers looking for their next ‘experiential’ holiday. You discovered an Australian ‘experiential tourism’ operator - Wild Bush Luxury - and have received rave feedback from your first group who experienced one of the operator’s Northern Territory bush safaris. The entrepreneurial operator has gone to great lengths to ensure that each guest’s experience is first class, because HE knows that word of mouth is far and away the best means of promoting his business.


Good communication and continued good relations with the operator and a strong methodology of tracking feedback is a winning business formula.

In many industries there is almost a resignation to being let down by business suppliers - missed deadlines, project delays, poor service delivery, cancelled appointments, slow payments, become par for the course. Such “cultural norms” are warning signs for a business service provider.

It is only with a mindset of delivering ‘optimal customer experience’ above all else that will determine customer retention rates, referral rates, and up-sale potential that can vastly increase the ‘lifetime value’ of a customer.

Recently I was a guest at the East Hotel in Canberra. This place lives and breathes great customer experience. Nothing is too much trouble. Little extras abound. Is it any wonder they are rated No 1 on TripAdviser.

It’s an oft-used mantra in personal development work (think Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) that doing the basics in person-to-person interaction, requiring mutual respect, integrity as the building blocks of trust: doing what you say you’ll do may be a simple mantra but it may also set you apart as the go to service provider in your industry.





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