Customer service has been around since the dawn of man—ever since woman gave him a rib. It has always been around and it will always be around as long as transactions involve a human somewhere during the process—like a customer.
So, why oh why is it so difficult for some of the humans in charge to understand the nuances of truly good customer service?
The following are unsolicited stories I have collected over the past few weeks—stories which companies, big or small, can learn from. Each of these people felt compelled to talk about an experience, whether it was good or bad:
- There was the neighbor I recently used as an example in YourDailySuccessTip.com. She pointed out most of the employees at our local video game store are friendly but cold, good but not great, doing their job but all according to a script—all except one. The reason she and her daughter keep going back to this particular store is this one employee who acts like she really cares about them. The neighbor went on to explain this employee remembers them, always gives a friendly hello, and goes the extra mile; she calls when she knows there is a special coming up they would be interested in.
- DJ Waldow of Waldow Social asked followers to imagine the following imaginary scenario: You walk into your local phone store to pay your monthly invoice. You walk up to the counter and hand the employee a check that covers the full amount due. The employee takes your check and says, "Please do not reply to me. Replies to me are routed to an unmonitored device." According to Waldow, "Email replies are no exception." If a customer replies to a company email—be it a question, a suggestion, a complaint, anything—it is a great opportunity to connect with a customer.
- A new acquaintance sent me this story just this morning. She applied with a nationwide health club chain and passed the audition. During orientation, she shared how she likes to build relationships and community with her class participants. She holds special events and fun classes, like '70s day, and promotes and markets at her own expense. Her soon-to-be boss replied, "Why would you want to do that? That would set you apart from the other instructors and make them look bad. Absolutely not permitted." My friend declined the job offer.
- And, from one more neighbor, a question about what happened to our long-time USPS delivery woman I will call Dana—because that is her name. Dana was told to speed up her route and stop being friendly with her customers she has been servicing and gotten to know for several years. (Yes, USPS, we are CUSTOMERS.) She was told she is "too friendly" and was to ignore us when we stopped to chat. She transferred to another post office to work under a different, more customer-friendly manager. Add that to the list of reasons you now know why the post office is going out-of-business.
Customer service is not about service, it is about the effort you put into creating and maintaining a relationship with those who give you money. Wow the customer and they will be loyal as well as your best FREE advertisers. Or as customer service consultant Peter Shankman of Shankman|Honig likes to say, "Just be one level above crap and you will win because the majority of companies are at the crap level."
Your customer service rocks or it sucks. Which category does your company belong in?
[Rock Shatters Window: Shi Yali via Shutterstock]