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Presenting a Good Appearance
CHAPTER 3 MANNING THE CONTACT POINT LEARNING  OBJECTIVES Upon completion of this chapter, you should be able to do the following: Discuss  the  first  impression  of  your  initial  approach  when  handling customers’  needs. Discuss  pitfalls  to  avoid  when  handling  customers’  problems. Describe  what  you  can  do  and  what  you  should  do  to  avoid  dissatisfaction in extreme and unusual situations. Discuss why assisting the customer is important. Discuss  the  importance  of  working  with  records  of  customers. You often hear the lament, “No one notices the things   I   do   right,   only   the   things   I   do   wrong.” Unfortunately, that is too often true! Perhaps that occurs because we expect people to do things right or because we find it easier to pick out those things that are wrong and evaluate their consequences. To emphasize this point, we use examples and illustrations in this book that point out mistakes you can avoid. Chapter 1 listed several contact points to which customers could come to receive services. These may be personal services, specialized services, or routine services. The  customer  who  wants  to  request  a  school, register an allotment, correct a service record error, or discuss  a  personal  problem  requires  more  than  routine, impersonal service. You should treat that customer as an individual  with  a  special  need. Most customers have routine needs that can be met on an impersonal basis. For example, the post office sorts mail for delivery; on payday the disbursing officer verifies and distributes pay—both are routine services. Even  though  routine  services  are  impersonal,  that doesn’t  mean  they  are  unimportant;  they  are  both personal and important to the customer receiving them. Performing  all  routine  services  properly  eliminates many customer service problems. This manual does not attempt to present customers’ problems  and  their  solutions.  Rather,  it  identifies problems in personal interactions, discusses factors that influence attitudes, and suggests ways to improve your effectiveness. THE INITIAL APPROACH It has been said that the first impression is a lasting impression.  Upon  first  meeting  someone,  you  quickly form opinions based on that person’s dress, speech, mannerisms, and rating or rate (if known). These first impressions are not always fair, but they do exist; they do affect our attitude. MAKING A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION Customers  form  a  first  impression  about  you  based on  the  same  criteria  you  use  to  form  your  first impression of them. However, these impressions affect your customers differently than they affect you. You will extend service to numerous customers during the course of a day—you meet a customer, form an impression, provide a service, and then redirect your attention to the next customer. The impression you form may affect your mood,  but  it  usually  does  not  extend  beyond  the individual customer or group of customers. On the other hand, a customer’s impression of you usually  gets  generalized  to  the  entire  office.  For example, a customer has a particularly complicated problem, and you are able to solve it by looking up the 3-1

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