I’ll bet there are a million books that have been written about customer service. I even wrote one that was published in 1991 called The Customer Is King! How has customer service been for you lately? Have all of the books that have been written over the last 20-some odd years done any good? Is customer service any better today than in the past?
There is a way to ensure that we receive top-quality service with each and every encounter (well almost). It’s been working for me flawlessly for many years and I can assure you that it will work for you as well. Yes, we’re the customer and we should be treated like royalty – right? Well, what if we treat the service provider like royalty too? I have made true friends with many individuals who provide service to me. And the word “friends” is important here. I treat them like I would treat a friend.
I always try and know the name of the person serving me. That’s the best way to start a friendship. And I use their name throughout the service experience – not in a patronizing or schmaltzy way, but in a natural conversational manner. I look them in the eye and smile. At some point in the encounter I may ask them something about themselves. Why? Because I really want to know more about them. I’ll joke and tease with them because that’s my personality. If someone provides excellent service, I make sure and tell him or her what a terrific job he/she did. And I also make sure and tell the manager the same thing. I may also shake hands with the service provider, especially if he’s a man. If the circumstances are appropriate I make certain that I tip generously, rounding up to the nearest dollar. At Christmas, I give $100 in cash to a couple of servers who regularly serve me at my favorite restaurants. In one case I know that my gift made a significant difference in what he was able to do for his family during the holidays.
We eat regularly at a local restaurant and have often been served by a 50-something woman. She wasn’t easy to warm-up, but when she did crack a smile it was radiant. At one point I told her how beautiful her smile was and I thought she was going to cry. I talked to her about her daughter and her mother and learned more about her life experiences. Today she is extraordinarily warm and outgoing with us. She goes to great lengths to make sure our service is outstanding. The effort I expend is nominal and I’m completely genuine about my interest in those providing service to me.
If something about the product or service isn’t quite right I don’t hesitate to talk to the service provider or the manager about it. I always do so in a friendly and respectful way. Throwing a tantrum and acting like a jerk doesn’t do anything to build friendships or treat everyone like royalty. More often than not the situation is corrected and though I never expect or request it, my bill is reduced or I receive a gift coupon.
Treating service providers like royalty is rare these days. Usually they simply blend into the background. When I interview someone for a job, I like to do so over a meal so I can see how well the person treats the wait staff. If her or she is gracious and acknowledges the server there’s a reasonable chance that the interviewee has a good customer service perspective. Numerous prospective team members have not been hired because they didn’t even show common courtesy to the server.
We have every right to expect excellent customer service. And we’ll receive it if we treat our service provider like a king or queen. It’s human nature to return kindness with kindness.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.