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A common issue for managers is that they are so focused on what’s going on in the organization that they don’t actually have time to work.

According to a study published in the Harvard Business Review, around 10 percent of executives use their time in a committed, purposeful and reflective manner. The remaining 90 percent squander their time on a whole range of ineffective activities or do little at all.

When you take a moment to think about this, it does make sense. After all, busy work can be the root of all evil when it comes to productivity.

Managers addressing every issue that arises, attending endless meetings, and obsessively answering e-mails and voice mails are activities that consume most of the work day.

So where does that leave time for customers?

Managers that are too obsessed with internal politics may be communicating the message that customers’ opinions and needs are less important than other aspects of their agenda. They are so caught up in dealing with internal dynamics, they forget how important it is to be in regular contact with customers and listen to what they have to say.

Do you use your company’s products or services or at least promote them to those who could use them? If you simply make decisions in a vacuum and base those decisions on your limited perspective, not only may the quality of your decisions be limited, but, at worst, you could alienate those around you.

When you are effective in customer relations, you will be able to serve as a customer advocate within your company. You will command and inspire high levels of customer responsiveness by showing that you clearly understand customer expectations and that you care passionately about them.

Here are a few key takeaways:

  • Analyze competitor information to see how they position their products or services and how they cater to customer needs. You might also spend time talking about customer reactions with people who interact frequently with your customers.
  • Fully explain and communicate to your employees your commitment to high standards of customer service. Then, be a role model.
  • Examine everything you do against these criteria: “Does this contribute to meeting customer needs?” or “What value does this add to our customers?
  • Treat your internal customers with care and respect, just as you treat your external customers.
  • Provide special training for all employees on customer service. Include tips on how to handle difficult requests and objections, and how to carry out service-related company policies and work processes.

The customer may not always be right, but you should at least acknowledge that they are there.