The world is your oyster

BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong - The Philippine Star

A city slicker was driving through the country when he spotted a horse standing in a field. He was taken with the animal and pulled over to ask the farmer if it was for sale. “Afraid not,” said the farmer. “I’ll give you a thousand bucks!” said the city fellow. “I can’t sell you that horse. He doesn’t look too good,” replied the farmer. “I know horses, and he looks fine. I’ll give you two thousand!” “Well, all right, if you want him so bad.” The next day, the man returned the horse, screaming that he had been taken advantage of. “You sold me a blind horse!” “Well,” said the farmer, “I told you he didn’t look too good.”

If you were to evaluate this farmer and how he rendered customer service in selling the horse, how would you rate him? I came across an article wherein a customer is ranting. He says, “The bar in customer service is so low.” Like many of you, I recently had some disappointing customer service experiences. Long story short – they’re paving our street and doing drainage work. Friday morning, the construction crew snapped my internet line. I went out to confirm that that’s what happened, and there it was, a cable out of the ground severed right in the middle. I called my internet provider, and three phone calls later, a tech came out 28 hours after they promised to send someone.

A few things happened in this ordeal: No one took responsibility. It wasn’t the crew’s fault nor my township’s fault. And the internet company blamed technology for failing to send someone out immediately and the crew. Some people showed empathy (I run a company out of my house… the internet is what I do), but it was more like they’d been to customer training and were saying what they were supposed to rather than caring. In the end, it was my persistence that got the problem fixed.

This leads me to my point. The bar on customer service is stinking low these days, giving you a golden opportunity as a leader. The opportunity? Hiring staff and recruiting people who care about people, take responsibility, and gives you an unbelievable advantage over almost anyone and everyone else. If you want to take it one step further, make your people-to-person contact more personal. People are looking for authentic connection and empathy as the world becomes more digital for someone who cares. Digital has so much upside, but you feel like a number in the end. If you make that mistake when people show up, interact with you, or message you, you’ve already lost. If you become a caring and empathetic leader or organization, the world’s your oyster. This is the kind of ranting I like. The customer expresses his frustration and horrible experience but offers suggestions and solutions. So clearly, this frustrated customer is not out for blood-bashing the company but is genuinely concerned with wanting businesspeople like us to improve.

Now let us apply this to our situation – more than two years of lockdown. It is relatively recent that the economy has opened up. Schools have re-opened, foot traffic in malls is increasing, and business establishments are scrambling to hire talents to man their stores and take care of business. There is revenge travel, and there is revenge shopping. The more we need to train our people to deliver excellent customer service. The pandemic has changed customers’ behavior and attitude in many ways.

* Customer loyalty is fickle. At the slightest sign of dissatisfaction, customers would not think twice and “punish” the business by switching to the competitor.

* Customers are anxious and agitated. Shopping is a stress-relieving experience for many. (It has been said that shopping is therapy, and I am constantly under intensive care.) And if they feel that they are disrespected and ignored by incompetent sales people, this adds more to their stress, and they find it hard to forgive the business.

* Customers have been forced to exist in isolation because of the pandemic. They long to belong. And if they sense that they are being served by businesses that do not care about their concerns and inquiry, they will bring the business to someone else who does.

Oh yes, the customer author is right. The world is your oyster if you are a leader or an organization that shows empathy and care. Your delighted customer will become your militant evangelist leading to your growth and more significant success. Show care and make sure you don’t sell a blind horse to anyone who does not know how to tell the difference.



(Francis Kong runs his highly acclaimed Level Up Leadership 2.0 Master Class Online this Oct. 25-27. For inquiries and reservations, contact April at +63928-559-1798 or and for more information, visit www.levelupleadership.ph)


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