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Recommending Your Competition Equals Good Customer Service.
By Shep Hyken
Saturday, 16th August 2014
The other day a potential client inquired about having me speak about customer service at his companyís annual meeting and typically, one of the first questions a client will ask when they call about me speaking at their meeting is, 'Are you available on this date?'.

Thatís an easy one to answer. I was. However, once we started discussing his goals for the meeting, I realized that I was not the right fit for that particular meeting. I was happy to recommend one of my colleagues.

The client was quite surprised that I would be so willing to turn business over to a competitor. While I will admit that I refer to my competition as ďfriendly competition,Ē even ďcolleagues,Ē it is still turning business away and referring someone else.

Why would I do this? Three reasons:

4Hoteliers Image LibraryThe first is that it is the right thing to do. I wasnít a good fit and it would be a mistake for me to accept the offer to speak.

The success of the clientís event was at stake, and I wasnít about to be the reason he didnít meet his goals, especially when I was not the guy for the job.

The second reason is that I have confidence. Iím confident that if I care more about the clientís success than that one booking, the client will eventually care enough to bring me in when it is a good fit.

Iím confident he will remember who helped him with this meeting when he starts to plan for the next one.

The third reason is simple. Itís just good customer service. I put the customerís needs ahead of mine.

Thatís what the best customer-focused companies are most interested in; taking care of their customerís needs is more important than making the sale. They realize that, long-term, the customer will come back.

One of the best examples of this was shared by Jay Baer, the author of Youtility. In a recent presentation he mentioned that Hilton, the hotel chain, monitors the social media channels for opportunities to engage with their customers and guests. This particular interaction came over Twitter when a person tweeted out that he was looking for a good restaurant in his area.

@LTHughston: Good places to eat near the Magnolia Hotel in Dallas for Saturday?

@Hilton Suggests: Wild Salsa on Main or Campisiís on Elm are awesome. Both within walking distance from your hotel in #Dallas. Enjoy!

What makes this a great example is that the customer isnít a guest of a Hilton, yet Hilton is still willing to take the time to respond and engage. The restaurants they suggested arenít their own hotel restaurants, and who knows if that person will ever be a guest of a Hilton hotel? It doesnít matter. Itís about creating good will and having the confidence to recommend the competition.

Are you confident enough to recommend your competition? In the right situation, it is simply good customer service.

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact (314)692-2200 or For information on The Customer Focusô customer service training programs go to Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright ©MMXIV, Shep Hyken - Reprinted with permission)
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