Excerpt: 'The Wisdom of Ginsu'

Are you kidding? How can you be too busy to take advantage of a call that could literally change your life? How do you know which one it is? You don't. What you can be sure of is that if you don't return your phone calls, you are decreasing the odds of good things happening to and for you. And can you really afford to lessen your chances for success, when other people are increasing theirs?

Nothing you ever do in business is easier to do and has a better chance for success than returning phone calls—promptly. It's a great way to increase business.

So, is it any wonder that returning phone calls (and e-mails) is both the easiest way to keep your clients happy and discover new ones? And if you're in the client-service business and don't return phone calls, you're dead.

Who would be dumb enough to do that? Many companies whose bread and butter is customer service do it constantly. Do it right and you'll set yourself apart from competitors and other people as being organized, smart, responsive, helpful, kind, and caring simply because the majority of us are "too busy" for what used to be simple, automatic courtesy.

So, here's the deal and the rule we live by. Do what everybody is not doing. Provide really good customer service in a time when it's rare (and everybody is begging for it) and you will be a leader in your industry.

Think something as simple as not returning a phone call can't be expensive. Listen to this:

When we first wanted to do a possible nonstick cookware offer, we naturally contacted as many pots and pans manufacturers as we could find. Mirro Aluminum, the largest manufacturer of cookware in the United States at the time, got back to us quickly and suggested that it send a company representative to meet with us and discuss our needs. Mirro Aluminum followed up right away, and within days we were having serious discussions. Believe it or not, some of the other companies didn't even return our calls. They were too busy trying to sell their products to K-Mart and other outlets, or didn't take us seriously. What did it cost them because they didn't get back to us? Well, let's see, we sold about 3 million sets of cookware for about $80 million. We paid somewhere in the vicinity of $30 million to $35 million for all of our cookware sets.

Remember, it's up to you to be responsive and follow up with folks who are trying to give you money, and you never know which phone call that's going to be. If someone calls you, whether you know who it is or what he wants or not, "get back to them, or they'll get someone else."

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