A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
Customers Wasting Your Time?
Dear Sue: How can I get a good customer to understand that his
30 to 45 minute phone calls are taking too much of our time? He buys a lot
from us and is an important customer, but his phone yammering on and on is
getting ridiculous. Do you have any suggestions?
Ė Wasting time
Sue Says: Donít be so sure that you are wasting your time on the
phone with this customer. I donít know what service you provide, but if
you are like any other business, you wouldnít be in business without your
customers. Customers can be choosy, and tend to take their business to the
companies they trust and like. There is a reason this customer is a good
customer of yours; perhaps the long phone conversations have been a
contributing factor to his perception of your service and concern for him
and his business.
When he talks to you, what is he talking about? Is it related to the
product or service you provide or is he talking about things that are
unrelated to business? Before you tell him to stop yammering, listen
carefully to what he says. The conversations that you perceive to be time
wasters could provide you with valuable information; the more you learn
about this customer, the better able you will be to serve him and grow
your business with him. Having a strong rapport with any customer is
essential to a long-lasting relationship, and ultimately may be one of the
main reasons this person will continue to buy from you. Although it may
sound as though I am suggesting you let him talk as much as he wants, this
does not mean that you should neglect your other customers or work you
have to do. You do need to have and set boundaries, and make sure you are
not taken advantage of in any way. You can guide the conversations in the
direction you want, and will need to have a few creative ways to end the
conversations without appearing rude or disinterested. You can limit the
number of times you let the conversation drag on by telling him that youíd
love to keep talking but have work that needs to be done. Be assertive,
but be sensitive and polite and always let him know how much you
appreciate his business and enjoy dealing with him. Never forget that this
person is a great customer; so if you make changes, keep doing some of
what youíve been doing, because it appears to be working.
Dear Sue: How do I thank my boss for a raise that I think is
fair, but not great? I don't want her to think I would be happy with this
amount of a raise every year, but I assume I should show some gratitude.
Sue Says: Thank her for the raise and let her know how much you
value your pay increases. Be sure she knows that you are motivated to work
hard and do what it takes to continue to increase your earning potential.
You may want to find a time to sit down with her, share your aspirations
and ask her what you need to do to receive an even bigger raise next time.
If you fail to inform her of your ambitions, she will assume you are fine
with things the way they are. It is important for you to know how far you
can go with this company and important for you boss to know what you are
Dear Sue: I write thank you notes each month to people who
regularly support an outreach program with finances. How can I change the
wording month after month so that it does not sound trite or repetitive,
but truly appreciative of the financial support?
Sue Says: There arenít too many different ways to say thank you,
but you may be able to change each note by including current updates of
how the money is being used or information about what the outreach program
is accomplishing. The people who support the program should be interested
knowing how things are going and how their support is making a difference.
However, you donít have to worry too much about your creativity; while
it is important for people to receive a note of thanks, most people donít
scrutinize the notes they receive and appreciate the acknowledgement. It
is fine to keep your notes simple with a traditional thank you, but once
in awhile you may want to mention that although a simple thank you may
seem redundant, you want to make sure he/she knows it is heartfelt and
that you really do appreciate the continued support.
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
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