Shifting into the millennium — what service gear are you in?

Shifting into the millennium — what service gear are you in?

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at



Shifting into the millennium what service gear are you in?

Some people are waiting for the turn of the century others are preparing for it. Which are you?

How are you preparing to blast into the 21st century? How are you developing and keeping the winning edge? How will you stay one step ahead of the competition? Well, if you’ve ever heard someone say “Shift into high gear” you’re close. Shift is the operative word. Transitioning from one way of doing things to another. Transitioning and shifting are very close.

Just shift (transition) from one method of operation or philosophy to a better one. Not all at once just identify what needs to be shifted, and go for it little by little day by day. Gear by gear. Shift is easier than change. Shift is more understandable than paradigm. And shift is a prerequisite for success in the next century (maybe the next year).

There are the fundamental business, sales, customer service, and personal shifts to adopt in order to receive your passport to the new millennium. All areas must be dealt with or there will be no balance. Presented here are the Customer Service Shifts.

1. Shift from satisfied customers to loyal customers. Customer satisfaction surveys are a joke. The real measurement of customer retention is not satisfaction it’s loyalty. Satisfied people will shop anywhere loyal customers won’t. Major Clue 1: Value your customers time. Create faster service to customers Call any big company’s service department and you get the typical, “Hello, can you hold?” Then you spend 10 minutes waiting for airline reservations while you listen to their inane messages that say they love you but hold longer. Who do they think they’re kidding? Push one if you want them to crawl in a hole and die. Big (and small) companies better stop doing and saying stupid things that make customers mad. Major Clue 2: List the top 100 words and never to say and things never to do to a customer and put that in your “policy book.” Eliminate automated attendant. Trash your company policy and turn it into an empowerment manual that is stated in terms of the customer. Loyal customers are the only insurance of your success for the long term. Satisfied customers will go anywhere to buy again, Loyal customers buy from you AND will sell for you.

2. Shift from matterafact and ugly to friendly all the time. When a prospect or customer calls, your first words set the tone for the transaction. The person who answers your phone represents the entire company. Most companies tell you it’s their people that set them apart almost. It’s their friendly people.

3. Shift from reactive service to proactive service. Beat customers to the punch be there for them before they need you. Anticipate their needs. Call before the supplies run out. Call in advance of special pricing or new products. Offer special services. Make customers feel that you care about them personally.

4. Shift from starting with no to starting with yes. People (customers and prospects) call you because they need help Tell how you CAN not why you can’t or they’ll call your competition and tell all their friends and associates the story.

5. Shift from excellence to memorable. Excellence is YOUR measurement. Memorable is the customer’s measurement and positive memorable experiences will create the most powerful method of advertising word of mouth.

6. Shift from the way YOU perceive you to the way the CUSTOMER perceives you. You may think you’re great but it doesn’t matter if the customer thinks you’re not. Meet with customers WEEKLY to get the real pulse and direction of your business. Customer perception is reality.

7. Shift from phrases like “have a nice day” to anything that is sincere. Sincere words from you to the customer give the comfort to return. Even though it’s your 10,000th time to say it it may be the customer’s first time to hear it. When you say “sorry about that” does the customer get a real feeling of apology? No. Be original and be sincere.

7.5 Shift from technology without a heart to technology with a heart. Answer your phone with a human being not a computer. Automated attendant may save you pennies but it will cost you a fortune in the long run. NO ONE wants to talk to a computer especially if it’s the first thing they hear when they call for help. Get back to human or lose to someone who is.

THE ULTIMATE BUSINESS/SALES/SERVICE SHIFT Shift from solicited referrals to unsolicited referrals. The benchmark and measurement for the success of your business is to get unsolicited referrals. Prospects calling wanting to do business with you because other customers told tham to. Let others sell for you, it’s 100 times more powerful. Testimonials and referrals will sell better for you than your best sales pitch to your best customer on your best day.

Well, there are the customer service shifts. How do you rate? Need to create a few shifts? I’ll bet. Now, I’m not telling you you gotta employ all these shifts. I am saying others are. Your choice.

Next week: Personal Shifts stay tuned…

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Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlottebased Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/3331112 or email to

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permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer 704/3331112