Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor, outlines seven keys to a customer-service culture at the recent QSC meeting in Milwaukee.

Sales and marketing are good topics for any meeting of service contractors. The economy being what it is, “Maximize Your Sales and Marketing Skills” was a particularly timely theme for Quality Service Contractors’ Power Meeting XXIX, held July 31-Aug. 2 in Milwaukee.

The program included practical sales advice from Bob Sinton and Tom Grau of The Training Center for Sales and Business Development, as well as QSC members sharing their best marketing ideas in a session moderated by QSC business coaches Lawrence Snow and John O’Connor. For contractors who want to get to No. 1 on Google, Brian Kraff of Market Hardware Inc. told them how to grow and defend their businesses on the Internet.

Consultant Nancy Friedman, known professionally as The Telephone Doctor, presented the seven keys to a customer-service culture in her seminar, “Getting the Right Attitude.”

“Your customers are not stuck with a negative attitude; they can go somewhere else,” she told QSC members. “More business is lost due to poor service and poor treatment than from poor product. We like it when people treat us nice. We will pay more for good service.”

Contractors can recognize the seven characteristics of a positive mental attitude when they hire someone, Friedman said. The seven keys are:

1. Decide to have a positive mental attitude. People can accomplish this every morning by determining what they can influence and what they can’t control. Anyone can be in a bad mood, she said, noting that moods are temporary and attitude is permanent.

2. Visualize success. Friedman quoted Lance Armstrong on his success racing bicycles: “I never saw myself losing.”

3. Don’t lose the three qualities of energy, humor and enthusiasm. Contractors and their employees have to say nice things to their customers, she said, and they can use humor even in bad situations. When interviewing a job candidate, a contractor should notice if the person is smiling.

4. Resist negative influences. Friedman said she has tried to remove from her life the people who complain and whine.

“I don’t care to be around negative people, and neither do your customers,” she said. “Don’t allow your employees to say, ‘I don’t know.’ It’s a direct rejection. Instead, they should say, ‘Gee, I’ll find out,’ or ‘That’s a good question.’”

Employees should remember to ask customers when they need the information or service requested. Assuming customers need it immediately can lead to “SIP,” or self-imposed pressure, Friedman noted.

5. Be a whatever-it-takes person. Employees telling a customer that they’ll double-check on something means that they are willing to give an extra effort.

6. Embrace change. Of the three styles of personality, passive people don’t want to move while proactive people are naturally inquisitive, Friedman said. Most people have an average personality, and it’s easier to move them to be proactive than it is passive people.

7. Be grateful for what you have. “There’s no room for jealousy in a positive mental attitude,” Friedman said.

QSC is an enhanced service group of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors - National Association. Power Meeting XXX will take place March 19-21, 2009, in Daytona Beach, Fla.

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