"Employees who look for creative ways to 'add value' for the customer are the ones who become successful," says Howard Hyden, president of the Center for Customer Focus in Colorado Springs, Colo. Hyden is an expert on improving competitive advantage through customer focus. He travels the country educating companies on what it takes to set them apart from the competition.
He says companies that want to be successful must encourage their employees to come up with innovative ways to focus on the customer. "I can think of dozens of companies where this concept has worked," says Hyden.
Perhaps one of Hyden's best examples comes from a gas station in California. The station is located near a business district so a good majority of its customers are professionals. "One day, a mechanic who works in the station garage overheard a customer complaining about how she hated having the smell of petroleum on her hands all day. He suggested to management that they make surgical gloves available to their customers," says Hyden. That simple idea has boosted business tenfold. People now line up to pump gas at this station because it found a creative way to solve the problem of smelling like a refinery after pumping your own gas.
"Think that example's good, here are some others generated at some of my workshops: a limousine driver who now makes sure he has a leash, water dish and bag of dog biscuits waiting when he arrives at the airport to pick up a customer he knows is traveling with a dog. And there's a bus boy at a Florida restaurant who came up with the idea to track uneaten food items instead of what people order off the menu to figure out items the customers didn't like. Employees who think outside the box make themselves invaluable, and well deserving of promotions and raises," says Hyden.
Coming up with ideas that will benefit the customer isn't the only way employees can get themselves recognized. Hyden says earning a reputation as someone who puts the needs of the customer before their own also looks good. So be the person who is willing to stay late to complete a last minute order, and who, when handling an angry customer, takes the attitude that the customer is right, no matter what. Helping your company earn a reputation as one that puts the customer's needs first will make you invaluable.
"I don't care what kind of business you're in. The key to success for any employee is to look at the business through the eyes of the customer and constantly look for creative ways to add value," says Hyden. "Once you can achieve that, everything else will just fall into place."
Hyden tells people who attend his seminars they need to find ways to add value or stay home. "The employees get energized and find it fun when they can create ways for their company to win in the market place. Many employees feel the grass is greener on the other side of the hill, so they think they need to look for a new job to be successful," says Hyden. "Well guess what, the grass is not greener on the other side of the hill. The grass is greener where you water it!"
To learn more about Hyden's strategy for setting yourself apart from your co-workers, log onto www.customerfocus.org.
Courtesy of ARA Content© 2003 ARA Content
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