14 Words Customers Really Want to Hear From You

A little while ago a salesperson from a company that supplies valves and other equipment for factories that deal with fluids and liquids told me an amazing story. For years she had been trying to make an impact into a really large organization with no success. All of her contacts said: “Your stuff is imported and it’s far too expensive.” But she still insisted on visiting them every couple of months because she knew that one day she would make her first sale there.

It didn’t work out quite as planned. One Saturday night she was watching the late news with her husband when she suddenly saw her client’s factory burning down. After recovering from the shock of it all, she decided that she must do something to help them. The next morning, she grabbed her hubby and her two almost-grown-up sons, and they all drove to the site of the fire. All the emergency vehicles were wrapping up the operation, but it was clear that the factory had been completely destroyed.

She bumped into the manufacturing director, who she had been visiting every couple of months for several years, and commiserated with him. “But we’re here to help now,” she said, pointing to her family. “Just tell us what we can do.” The director was taken aback by her generosity, and said there was nothing that they could do, but thanked her profusely for thinking about them.

A few weeks later she received a letter from him, and he wrote: “Of all our suppliers, customers and connections, you were the only one who pitched in to help, and we are very grateful for that. The insurance company has cleared us to start rebuilding immediately, and I would like your company to sell us all the equipment we need. Please sit with the engineers and let them explain our requirements. I am insisting that they work with you.”

With that one order, she achieved her whole year’s budget, a substantial commission payment, and her CEO gave her a special award. The CEO of the mother company that supplied the products from overseas paid for her and her family to visit the massive plant and have a holiday too. And she addressed the whole international sales team at a conference at which she told her story. All because she couldn’t sit back and do nothing while her not-yet-customer was suffering.

I’m often asked, “What’s the best way to take care of your customers?” and like a true consultant, I always say, “It depends.” But in a recent survey which asked customers questions like, “What do you want from the businesses that you deal with?” and “What would be the most important characteristics of the people that you deal with?” almost all customers said they wished they could just be helped.

What does that translate into? You don’t have to be the quickest; you don’t have to be the cheapest; you don’t have to be the smartest; but you do need to be there when they need you, and to do what they reasonably ask you.

There are just fourteen words which I usually put at the end of just about any communication I have with our clients – spoken, written, and emailed: “If there’s anything else I can help you with, please just let me know.”

Of course, there are lots of other messages that prove you mean it:

  • Encourage them to contact you whenever they want: “Here’s my personal cell phone number. Call me 24/7.” (If you think this isn’t possible, consider how a small number of CEOs are now giving you their cell phone number in full-page advertisements in newspaper. In one of them, he writes, “Here is my cell phone number… but you are not going to need it.”)
  • Alternatively, introduce them to other employees and managers on your team so they know they can turn to someone else for help if you are not around.
  • Be proactive about sending them stuff that will be useful to them: “I just picked up this article which I thought you might find useful.” Or, “I was recently at the industry exhibition for XYZ and I saw a machine which I thought you may want to look at.”
  • Introduce them to other people in your network who may have common interests or similar problems, or who can help them.
  • Make information available whenever they need it: “Here’s our website address and a special link so you can get information even I’m not around.” Or, “We analysed what you buy from us every month and think we can save you some money by…”

The big idea is to help customers believe that your philosophy, the very reason for your existence, is to help them, whatever it takes. And in some cases, it may have nothing to do with what they buy from you. But that’s what true partners do for each other.

The whole idea is to show your appreciation for them, and for the fact that they support you. All you need to say, “Whatever you need, want and desire, I’ll be there when you need me.”

And if ever you hear that one of your customers or prospects has experienced a crisis, seriously think about getting involved to help them in some way. It may be the best decision you have ever made in your business – and will probably help you to sleep much better at night.


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