Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

One Key to Advancement: Customer Advocacy

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

One Key to Advancement: Customer Advocacy

Article excerpt

If you are a manager, you can skip today's column, because it is written for your employees. This column is a response to a query from a Midwestern employee who wants to know the secret to maximize career advancement within a company.

My recommendation is to become an ardent and energetic advocate for your customers. The dictionary defines an "advocate" as a supporter or defender, one who provides active support. I define "your customers" as those people (internal or external to the company) to whom you personally provide a product or a service.

In any organization, there are always impediments that may prevent providing the best possible product or service. These impediments take a variety of forms: uncaring people, misunderstood communications, equipment breakdowns, material defects, weather, and events known collectively as fate. It is all too easy (and all too common) for an employee to say, "I couldn't get it for you because..." However, an employee who is a tenacious advocate for his or her customers will not accept obstacles to success without a fight. Here are some examples: A marketing manager learns that a promised product will not ship on time to a valued customer. Rather than merely pass this message to his customer, he assembles a memorandum showing executive management that these delays would seriously hurt the customer's project and jeopardize the customer's future business with the company. He suggests having an outside subcontractor provide additional staffing to complete the product on time at a slightly lower profit. Result: the customer gets the order on time. Recently my wife and I had dinner at Red Lobster. The restaurant had a shrimp plate special which included some deep-fried shrimp. When my wife told the waitress that she'd consider ordering the special except she didn't want the batter-fried shrimp, the waitress immediately offered to substitute a double batch of the shrimp scampi. Everyone won on that one: My wife got the meal she wanted at a special price, Red Lobster got us as satisfied customers who will return, and our waitress received a sizable tip. …

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