How To Win Customers For Life (Guest Post on Miles and Co.)

How To Win Customers For Life
Buying a car
often sits near the top of the dreaded tasks list for most Americans. I felt the exact same way, despite buying three cars in the past.

Car dealerships and specifically salespeople are typically rated very poorly on follow-ups once they’ve completed the initial sale. But as DFW Car Dealer Carl Sewell writes in his book Customers For Life, one customer is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The first chapter of Carl’s book outlines the Ten Commandments of Customer service:

  1. Bring ‘em back alive: Ask customers what they want and give it to them again and again.
  2. Systems not smiles: Saying please and thank you doesn’t ensure you’ll do the job right first time, every time. Only systems guarantee you that.
  3. Underpromise, overdeliver: Customers expect you to keep your word. Exceed it.
  4. When the customer asks the answer is always “yes.” Period.
  5. Fire your inspectors and consumer relations’ department: Every employee who deals with clients must have the authority to handle complaints.
  6. No complaints? Something’s wrong: Encourage your customers to tell you what you’re doing wrong.
  7. Measure everything: Baseball teams do it. Football teams do it. Basketball teams do it. You should too.
  8. Salaries are unfair: Pay people like partners.
  9. Your mother was right: Show people respect. Be polite. It works.
  10. Japanese them: Learn how the best really do it; make their systems your own. Then improve them.

Additionally, he writes if you treat your customers right, they’ll want to come back.

“Instead of buying one car from us, and then disappearing forever, the customer returns whenever he needs a new one,” Sewell writes. “Over the course of his lifetime he’ll end up spending a lot of money with us –$517,000 to be exact.”

Cameron Tigg  at Joe Machens Toyota in Columbia very much understands this concept. …

To read the rest, you’ll have to go check out the Miles & Co. blog, where I wrote this as a guest piece.

ProTip: Reading to unsubscribe

Emails are a necessary evil. Like it or not, it’s how people and organizations communicate in 2015.

If you want to unsubscribe, CAN-SPAM makes it super easy. In a nutshell, the 2003 CANSPAM act (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing) sets the rules for commercial email (including small businesses and non-profit organizations), establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them and spells out tough penalties for violations.

So rather than just hitting reply and asking to be removed, or worse replying with STOP like you would a text message, scroll to the bottom of the email and look for messages like this one from the Home Depot:

Home Depot Unsibscribe


Or this one from Groupon:
Groupon Unsubscribe
Even Facebook has an easy unsubscribe:
Facebook Unsibscribe
Avoid looking like you’ve never used email and if you want to unsubscribe, scroll to the bottom of the email and follow those directions.

You’re a new mom

You're a New Mom! When I was pregnant, I hated the phrases “just you wait” or “I’ll remind you of that when…” Now that Avonlea is here, I hate the phrase “you’re a new mom” as much if not more.

I’ve been surprised at how this phrase is used to be condescending and demeaning and everyone from strangers to medical professionals use it to “excuse” or justify my behavior or worse devalue my concerns.

Somehow the new mom designation translates to being uninformed or ignorant in addition to overly emotional, irrational, harried and unstable. Even worse is when the person says, “you’re a new mom” with an eye roll or a tone that indicates you “silly woman.”

Let me be clear, I’m not being an overly emotional new mom because I’m tending to my daughter’s needs. I’m not being an irrational new mom by being prepared. I’m not just being a new mom because I notice changes in my daughter’s behavior and ask questions. I’m not just being an overly concerned new mom because recommended courses of action aren’t working. I’m being a mom.

I first encountered this phrase when I was at the local Macy’s and trying to find a place to change my daughter’s diaper and if necessary feed her. (This was after finding out that the handicap doors didn’t work, so I shouldn’t have had my hopes up.)

Not only was the bathroom not equipped with a changing table but trying to find a chair to sit in for nursing or giving her a bottle was almost impossible.

In desperation, I found a handicap dressing room with a seat. Thankfully even though we were just going to the store for a short time, had packed an extra outfit, a bottle and a few diapers. Poor girl needed the new outfit, two diapers and drank the entire bottle.

When we emerged from the dressing room with a new outfit and a happier (not screaming) baby, fellow shoppers commented on how I “must be a new mom” because I was “over prepared.”

I don’t think I was even a bit over prepared! I was just prepared and knowing my daughter and her general needs doesn’t make me over prepared.

By far, the worst and most condescending comments about my being a new mom has come from a medical specialist we’ve seen.

After our terrible experience in the Pediatric Unit when Avie was four days old (see above photo), I’ve become a much more vocal advocate for my daughter. I’m not afraid to request the next steps in treatments and I’m willing to do my homework.

When the physician recommended course of action isn’t working the timeframe he indicated it would and I say I want to try something else, don’t tell me just being a “new mom.” I want my daughter to get better. I want to make sure this isn’t going to cause long-term issues because we weren’t proactive enough.

So when a nurse or physician essentially blows off my well-researched questions or indicates my wanting to try something else is just because I’m a new mom, it makes me irate.

I highly doubt non-new mothers would ignore their child’s symptoms or would want to be unprepared for a diaper blow out. All parents should feel comfortable advocating for their children whether they are first time parents or fifth time. Period.

Pregnancy is not for the thin-skinned

Me: 38 weeks pregnant.

In the 1950s and 1960s, women didn’t work while they were pregnant. They wore clothes specifically to hide their growing baby bump. They would also go into a laying–in or confinement a month or two before birth, which means no one saw them at their largest.

No one spoke about the pregnancy in public and strangers certainly didn’t comment on how much a pregnant woman has “popped” or “blossomed” since the last time they saw her.

Fast forward to 2014 and not only is pregnancy a topic of public conversation, but comments about the woman’s body are as prevalent as talking about the weather.

There’s nothing quite like a coworker remarking about how you’ve reached the puffy stage of pregnancy and even your nose looks bigger! Or how your belly is magnificent! (Both comments real people said to me.)

Strangers at the grocery store walk up and put their hands on a pregnant woman’s belly, despite her obvious recoiling at the act.

These unwanted comments and physical touches would be considered rude at best and in some cases grounds for harassment in others.

Here’s a fun fact: the child is also probably recoiling. You can’t touch the child, you are a stranger invading her space. You are not comforting anyone. Your own narcissistic need to be a part (even for a moment) of something that is not in any way shape or form yours is actually making everyone, including the unborn child, uncomfortable.

There is nothing kind about what these people are saying or doing. For a woman who is already dealing with a complete loss of control of how her own body functions, how her shape looks and the general cognitive dissonance from what she thinks she looks like to how she actually looks these comments are just cruel.

No one in their right mind would say anything like these comments to a non-pregnant coworker, friend or stranger. In some cases, these comments would be grounds for a conversation with the HR manager or the ending of a friendship.

Commenting on a pregnant woman’s body is not funny, it is not an opportunity to bond unless she has given you explicit instructions and allowed you in that circle of trust. It isn’t cute, it isn’t funny and at best you are making every person within ear shot uncomfortable. A general hint: if you are wondering if you are in that circle of trust, you aren’t and should keep your mouth closed.

It’s astounding how many people just don’t see you, the human being, the brain, the person anymore and just see an incubator. A pregnant woman has enough trouble dealing with her new identity and changing shape that she doesn’t need the constant reminder that in your eyes, she’s no longer the breadwinner, the math genius, the marketing director, that she’s just a pregnant woman incubating a child.

Toward the end of the pregnancy the comments about “just you wait” or “I’ll remind you of that when” are beyond unhelpful. The pregnant woman IS waiting.

She also has ideas and dreams and aspirations for herself and her child. She has plans that may or may not be flexible and saying just you wait to comments about not sleeping well or being uncomfortable are extremely unkind. Reminding her of the intention to breastfeed (or not), have an un-medicated delivery (or not) or whatever can chip away at her confidence. She has the right to make her own choices, without your judgment, period. Pregnancy is not a competition.

Furthermore, when she’s at the end (or what you’ve determined to be the end) asking, “so when’s that baby going to get here” is just uncalled for. Babies don’t have a clock or a calendar, the mother doesn’t know any better than you do. Unless there are complications and a procedure is scheduled, she doesn’t know. In the case a procedure is scheduled, asking only reminds the woman about the issues surrounding it.

Instead of treating the mother like an incubator whose only purpose is to hatch a child, try bring kind. When you ask how are you and she says fine, don’t push. Don’t say, “no, really, how are you,” until she comes up with something to say. And when and if she does confide in you and tells you about an ache or pain, don’t say, “just you wait.”

Don’t share horror stories in an attempt to bond. If she wants to know your birth story, she’ll ask. But most likely she doesn’t.

Try to remember the woman is still a person, still a human being and still very much trying to hold on to who she was before she was going to be a mother.

Pro-Tip: First name


There’s a fine line when using a person’s first name. In some cases, it makes the recipient uncomfortable and may make you come across as condescending.

This post from the New York Times is from 1988, but don’t let the year make you think it isn’t relevant. The author writes this overuse of first names makes him bristle. “I resist people I don’t know (and on the phone have never met) addressing me by my given name. It makes me uncomfortable and robs me of the right of choosing to call someone a valued friend. This forced friendliness is most often found in dealing with sales-people. When a total stranger calls me by my first name, my usual reply is, ”Do we know each other?”’

It seems this practice is called repeat signifying, which according to this page is a common sales tactic. “Repeat signifying (or repeat naming) has become the bloodsport of telemarketers, as well as others who one would not expect to be in the business of intimidation. It consists of ‘addressing’ someone by name, mid-conversation. Repeatedly. One would presume this is to initiate the conversation, but what about the repetition? The frequent repetition demonstrates the offensive intent of the tactic.” You can read more about this here.

The extra catch to this is in social media when usually an organization or business decides to show they’ve done their research on you by using your first name in a tweet. Not only is this usually a waste of  characters, but it comes across as patronizing and overly familiar.

Bottom line, don’t over use this tactic regardless of your profession.

Here’s a prime example of when using someone’s first name in social media just comes across as condescending and patronizing.

Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 1.00.46 PM

USAirways was already tweeting directly to me, making it completely unnecessary to use my first name at the end of the sentence. This went on for several more tweets becoming incessantly rude.