To Be A Great Firm Is To Be In Touch With Clients

A company must stay on track to succeed


So I’ve been asked to write some articles for this newspaper and I’m sure you’re saying, “Who is this Becker guy and why should I keep reading this article?”

The answers are as follows:

  • If you ask my friends or family, I am an idiot, but I see things in a clear, simplistic way.
  • I am the author of a couple of national best sellers on sales and customer service. And, yes, my friends are still in shock that I can read a book, let alone write one.
  • My attention span is as long as a mosquito’s, so what I want is a fun article, easy to read and stuff I can learn from wasting my time reading — unless you’re in the bathroom and then it counts as time well spent!

My customer service background started at Xerox, where I was a salesperson who was trained to do whatever it took to satisfy the customers and make sure they were happy. So the equipment stayed in the customer’s office rather than a Xerox warehouse. In fact, 25 percent of our compensation plan was based on making sure customers did not cancel their contracts.

Next on the career path was the formation of Direct Opinions, a company I started in 1982 when a new car dealership called me after my service appointment. This type of phone call blew me away because it said to me “this company really cares,” and I decided to try being an entrepreneur.

In 1990, I decided to sell the company so I could retire (it lasted 28 minutes). The new owners were able to fulfill my dream and take my company from our nine locations and 2 million phone calls a year to a 30 percent-plus growth rate each year. During my reign as CEO, I learned a few things every business should do all the time. To really understand customer service, a great company is always in constant touch with its customers. We simply had our callers ask their customers a few basic questions. They were as follows:

  • Were you completely satisfied? If not, why not?
  • Were the employees helpful and courteous? If not what happened?
  • Would you return or recommend the product or service to others?

If a company keeps a simple plan, sticks with it and stays on track, it has a chance to be a world-class company that provides superior customer service.

Now we come to the next chapter and hopefully not the last part of my life. When I was 21 and in the audience of a top-performers trip for Xerox, I had the chance to see my first speaker. His name was Tom Sullivan, a blind man who wrote a book called “If You Could See What I Hear!” His speech not only captivated me, but right then I decided what I wanted to do with my life — to be a speaker and travel around the world, let other people pay for it and be able to tell others my thoughts and actually get paid. It took about 14 years to reach the dream (an overnight success), but it really is a cool job. So I had to come up with a new business plan and part of it was to be an author, so it lends credibility to what I talk about.

By the way, for being a “retired guy” the work has never been harder or the hours longer. But the days have been the most fun!

All this leads us to our latest book, “At Your Service.” This book took over four years to write and the mission was simple: Just write about the worst service in America (which happens to all of us, but I was just the first person to actually put it in a book), tell the stories and then what the companies should have done to satisfy the customer instead of leaving them mad. The last chapters are interviews with the 10 best companies in the world, firms such as L.L. Bean, Lexus, Nordstrom, Ritz Carlton, Disney and certain other companies so we can learn about what they do differently and how that can be applied to every other business.

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