Every action, interaction and even non-action with a customer leads down one of two paths, one which builds a relationship or one which erodes one. There is no in-between or middle road. You either make the customer feel good, appreciated and important…or, you don’t. Some of that has to do with choosing the right audience. But, most of it relates to service and how you handle people. So, with only two choices, this business of serving guests seems relatively straightforward...focus your energy on going down the high road of building long lasting relationships and do everything possible to stay off the alternative pathway.

But, we all know it’s not that simple. Too often, we get distracted. We lose focus on what’s most important and get caught-up in the daily grind. We focus more on what’s important to us, and less on what’s important to our guests. We worry about how we feel. We worry about “being right”. We worry about making quarterly earnings, about making our boss happy or about getting home on-time. And, while all of these things are important to us, sometimes very important, they don’t at all matter to our customer. The guest doesn’t care how we feel, if our boss is happy or if we can make our next lease payment. They only care how they feel.

Every time we focus on ourselves and our problems, we start going down the wrong path. We feel better..and our customers don’t. To some degree, this is inevitable. After all, we’re human. But, if we recognize this weakness and ensure that enough emphasis is placed on countering the tendency, especially at the most critical moments, we’ll win. And, so will our customers.

Next time you’re faced with a customer complaint, staffing crunch, or an overbooking situation, think about the customer relationship, and what will happen to that relationship with your next move. Next time you plan an advertising campaign, sales blitz or telemarketing attack, think twice about how it feels to be on the other end.

You’re at the fork in the road every day. Think carefully about which path to take.