About the interviewee
David M. Dye works with leaders who want to build teams that care and get more done. He is a former nonprofit executive, elected official, and President of the leadership-consulting firm, Trailblaze, Inc. David is the author of the multiple award-winning book The Seven Things Your Team Needs to Hear You Say. He is also a professional member of the National Speakers Association and serves as an officer on the Boards the Colorado chapters of the National Alliance on Mental Illness and National Speakers Association.
Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.).
Trailblaze, Inc is a boutique leadership-consulting firm working with leaders in the United States and Canada. As President, David is the only full-time employee. He leads a team of six to work with leaders at every level to increase their employee engagement and productivity. Lately, we’ve been focused on organizations in human service, technology, medicine, banking, facilities, and construction. David provides his leadership expertise through a combination of speaking, writing, consulting, and coaching.
Tell us about what it means to you to “put customers first”?
When you put customers first you set aside your own beliefs, your processes, and your models. None of that is important. What matters is what the customer actually needs.
You set aside your thoughts and you simply listen.
You listen for what is underneath their pain or what they want to accomplish and you ask enough questions to help them understand their own situation. (Not all needs are tangible – e.g. sometimes a client needs to look good for their own boss.)
Then, with the customer, you explore if your services, products and abilities are a good match for them. You are open to their choice…to the reality that you may not be the best match.
If you’re not the right match, and you truly put the customer first, refer them to someone who can better meet their need.
What mistake do businesses make when it comes to taking care of customers?
I’m constantly amazed by the people I try to give my business and who screw up the little things. They don’t call back or they don’t do what they say they’ll do.
A quick example: lightning killed a tree in our front yard. I went through four different tree removal services before I found one that a) returned my call and b) showed up to give an estimate.
I tried to give three different companies my money. Even with the internet and crowd-sourced ratings, it continues to amaze me how many companies don’t take care of the small things.
Don’t treat customers as an inconvenience. They are your only reason to exist. Return phone calls. Do what you say you’ll do.
What is your firm doing to demonstrate your beliefs in this principle?
We always start with a relationship.
That relationship begins with a same-day return phone call and an extensive conversation about what they want to achieve, what’s keeping them from getting there, and how they hope we can help.
Often, we suggest alternatives. We’re only interested in doing business with clients who believe that we’re a good match. The relationship is more important than a specific engagement.
Clients receive a customized program to meet their specific needs. Whether it’s an interactive keynote presentation, a multi-day workshop and consulting, individual coaching, or a quick lunch program, we provide a specific package that will help clients solve their unique challenges.
While many speakers and trainers deliver the same cookie-cutter work over and over, if you were to look through all our work to date, you will not find any two identical programs. Each one is customized to serve that client and no other.