I tweeted this question a week ago. It didn’t go as viral as I thought it would…but it did get some responses. For example:
“I surely hope not.”
“Sometimes I think it is!”
“Seems like it!”
I tweeted that out after having 2 experiences with organizations where the customer service was subpar, in my opinion. I’m sure we’ve all been there. It wasn’t like they cussed at me or did anything that was underhanded or illegal. But they didn’t provide good customer service.
I used to teach a college-level course on customer service – because it’s that important for businesses. My biggest accomplishments in my career include turning around customer service scores (one place, I led from #969 in the company to #350 in just 18 months). In other words, I understand and value customer service and I believe that it is the one thing that will set an organization apart…for either good or bad.
Now let me be clear up front – I am not a diva. I do not require over the top customer service or a WOW experience every time a shop or dine somewhere. That’s not what I’m talking about. Those are awesome when they happen, but are not the standard.
You see, it seems as though that there is a mentality that as long as I’ve delivered the product you’ve purchased and I didn’t do it illegally, unethically, or in a way that was offensive – then I’ve just given you excellent customer service. However, those are all just starting points in a customer’s experience and is in no way providing service to that customer.
So, without me continuing to rant about it, let me just give you some practical ways to provide good customer service:
- Smile and make eye contact. One of the 2 negative experiences I had was simply when I was placing an order for food and the employee never looked up at me at the beginning, middle or end of my order. I felt as though I was interrupting their work rather than being the cause of their work.
- Say thank you. I could write about this for days, but saying thank you is a lost art in a number of different ways. Saying thank you, however, is a way to show a customer that you appreciate that they’re purchasing an item from the place that you work – which then, in turn, pays your paycheck.
- Say I’m sorry. Even if it’s not your fault. When a customer is frustrated, an apology goes a long way. You may not have completely solved the issue and it may be totally the customer’s fault, but when you say you’re sorry, it takes down a barrier to finding a solution.
- Solve issues. If something goes wrong, don’t let apathy overtake you. Use critical thinking. Be creative. Get a manager. Show the customer that you’re trying to solve the issue. Once again, no matter who’s at fault – it is good customer service to try and solve the issue. At the end of the day, if there isn’t a solution found, at least you tried…and the customer will appreciate and recognize that (most of the time).
- Do something extra and unexpected. Offer to help them to their car. Remember their name (or order) if they regularly come into your business. Ask them how they’re doing…and really care about their answer. Make it your mission to make them feel special.
- Fake it til you make it. If you’re having a bad day or a bad moment, the customer should never know it. If you’re hours just got cut, the customer should not catch the brunt of your frustration. If you’re short handed, the customer should never, ever know it. Sometimes you just have to fake it.
I’m sure there are many, many more. And, I’m not a believer in “the customer is always right,” but I am a believer in “the customer should always feel like they’re always right.”
One last disclaimer – we are facing a huge phenomenon here in America called entitlement. And, many customers have this mentality of entitlement and have caused a lot of the decline in good customer service. I recognize that. But, that’s a post for another day.
To end on a positive note, where have you experienced GREAT customer service? Post it below…