Contributed by Ron Marcus, ZUZA Marketing Cheerleader
Service example #1:
I was recently in a toy store, purchasing gifts to give to my niece at her birthday party. The store clerk was friendly enough. And when she finished ringing up the order, she smiled. I said, “Thank you.” She replied, “Your welcome.”
[customer service mistake #1]
Service Example #2:
I waited for her associate to finish the free gift wrapping (a nice touch, and a win-win, since the wrap carries the store’s brand on it). When she was finished, the first staff person brought it over to me. Again, I said, “Thank you.” She replied, “No problem.”
[customer service mistake #2]
Service example #3
I’m a customer walking through a restaurant or retail store (doesn’t matter which). I end up crossing paths with a member of the staff. One of us has to stop and wait so the other can pass. We both stop. I wait. The staff person goes.
[customer service mistake #3]
WHAT WERE THE MISTAKES?
Service Example #1:
I said, “Thank you,” when the clerk completed my purchase. Sure, I was happy to be polite and say this. And I was genuinely grateful. But, the store clerk really should have thanked me. I’m the one who made the trip to visit the store, and chose to purchase items there, which benefits the store and ultimately her employment. As a customer, I could have chosen to bring my business elsewhere.
By not thanking me, the clerk squandered the opportunity to make me feel appreciated for choosing her store. Whether she realized it or not, the meta message she was sending was, “I don’t really care if you shop here or not.”
Service example #2:
When the clerk delivered my wrapped gifts, which I genuinely appreciated, I was sure to say, “Thank you” again. I’m sure she innocently thought that by saying the common, habitual response of “no problem” she was expressing to me that she was happy to help me. But, let’s look at what “no problem” literally means: “Don’t worry – I was not inconvenienced by assisting you.” Well, I’m certainly glad I didn’t inconvenience the store clerk – who was just doing her job!
What could she have said to make me feel appreciated? You got it – “My pleasure!” Translation: she enjoyed making my day easier by wrapping my gifts for me.
Service Example #3:
I and the store staffer cross paths. One of us has to give way. We both stop. I linger just a little longer – and the staff person proceeds to cross my path.
If the staff person really wanted to make me feel like a guest in his place of employment, he would have insisted that I pass first. Instead, he was signaling to me that his desire to get where he was going to complete a work task (or go on break; I have no idea which) took precedence over a customer patronizing his place of business.
AM I MAKING A BIG DEAL ABOUT NOTHING?
These are all very simple things. In the normal course of the day, they may seem trifling. But in fact, they speak volumes about the culture of the company whose staff does these things. It would be just as easy for the store clerk to thank me first. It would be just as easy for the store clerk to express her pleasure at having the opportunity to serve me, instead of simply reassuring me that I was not an inconvenience to her. It would be just as easy for the staff person to let me pass first. In each case, choosing the very simple alternative would make me feel appreciated, welcomed, and important. Instead, I was made to feel marginalized.
Now, I have a thick skin, and normally, these types of trifles wouldn’t even register. But when its a company’s brand we’re talking about, these things really rankle me.
At a time of intense business competition and so many products and services being essentially a commodity, the one surefire way you have to differentiate your business, delight your customers, keep them loyal, and turn them into evangelists for your brand, is great customer service. And, as we saw in the previous three examples, it’s just as easy to give great service as it is to give cavalier service.
I don’t fault the employees, however. This goes right to the top. Culture is set from the top down. It’s up to the company owner(s) to set the example of providing good service, mandating it to employees, rewarding it, and only employing people who are happy to give it. (I wrote about this at length in the previous blog post, “Service = Brand.”)
From now on, as you go through your typical day of shopping and eating out, notice how staff interacts with you. See if you can identify the opportunities for them to make you feel appreciated and welcomed, and if these are missed. Notice how this makes you feel. Now multiply this by the number of customers who come in once and never come back because they got better service elsewhere.
That’s why this is so important.