What does excellent customer service mean to you? Is it a greeting as you enter the business? The personality of the party assisting you as you browse? Is it the quality of the product and the people representing it? What drives you to keep going back to certain places, if it isn’t the service?
Customer service is something that every business strives to gain magnificent ratings in. The review of this is normally done with or through surveys, secret shoppers, and examining complaints. Service normally determines if you will visit that business again.
My family is huge on customer service. It stems from personality to the quality of whatever the business is serving. We have traveled miles to stores to grocery shop at a particular store due to the customer service. I have an aunt that will not drive out of the drive through without making sure if she orders fries somewhere that they are pippin hot. If they aren’t, she will ask if they would serve cold, burnt fries to their mothers, sisters, or family. LOL… When I was younger I didn’t get it. However, now being older and working for my money, I definitely understand it. I have a friend that will not shop at a particular business if the parties working there are not polite as they greet her on her way in the business.
Every position I have held centered on customer centricity. No matter while assisting internal or external customers, the particulars of the position did not matter. Yep, internal customers count as well. In the positions I have held that focused on the customer, those interviews particularly focus on your customer service experience. For example, tell me about a time you provided great customer service and tell me about a time you made a promise to a customer and did not meet the deadline. In those roles this should never be hard to answer as you do it daily if focusing on the right things with your business. They want to know before they hire you how you handle the customer. They don’t mind hearing your mistakes; it is more about how you recovered and handled the customer after a situation went haywire.
I personally won’t spend money in an establishment that has poor customer service on multiple occurrences. This goes from things as grocery stores, restaurants, car maintence facilities, and hair stylist. I have time under my belt in the education, serving, car sales, and corporate world arena. As a server, I would have lacked in tips if customer service did not come first. My tips were pretty good as I tried to approach it in the way of how I would like to be treated. One customer would point at items as he requested them with nonverbal gestures. I assumed he was unable to speak due to this. We even had a few times that he ordered that I had a hard time understanding what he needed. He still never said a word. Later, I look over at the table and he was speaking with the people he was there with and showed no sign of struggle in talking. What in the world… why would someone attempt to communicate with a server in nonverbal gestures, but can speak without any mishaps. SMH… In the education role as a recruiter, I let my personality shine and let my drive for education be the priority. The university I recruited for was big on wanting to make sure that as we promote higher education, we were to also focus on making sure it was a good fit for the student. I loved the fact that we were not just about getting someone to apply and join our campus just based on a number. I was attending school fairs, giving speeches on the importance of higher education, speaking at preview events for the university. There was no time for letting my attitude or a bad day get in the way. Believe me I do give that as an out normally when I receive bad service. During my time in car sales, simply put, there would have been no car sales without customer service. I recall lending a helping hand to women that was old enough to my grandmother. She had been in a car accident and totaled her car out. She decided to retain it for salvage as she wanted to research and see if she could get the best deal for it. She was very particular as to what she was looking for based on her age (she reminded me a few times, this maybe the last car she would buy), her fixed income, and needing to make sure she could assist in picking up her grandkids. She initially wanted to find something in the 2008 to 2010 range, somewhat worried about the mileage, warranty, and the car note. I listened to her story and concerns as well as shared that I might be able to get her a better deal on something newer that would generally have less warranty issues. She was very hesitant to go with a newer vehicle. I tried to explain that I understand her concerns, but the role I was in, I needed to educate her on the best option and she could determine how to move forward. It took two months to close the deal. My GM was concerned we had lost the deal. I didn’t have this concern so much as I talked to her over the phone once a week, I would pick her up to come in and view cars, called to discuss options, and arranged to get her car towed in for review. She did eventually buy a vehicle with me and she did share the reason she did not look elsewhere over time was due to the customer service. She was probably one of my most memorable customers. For me, it wasn’t about making money off of her and getting her into just anything. I think sometimes people get so caught up in the $$ signs in their eyes, that they don’t consider what they may not be sharing or doing that will benefit the other person.
If you continuously run into an issue with customer service. You may want to make sure that you are not giving off vibes that are causing this. Not that I am making this an excuse. I have seen some customers in stores be rude, yell, and act pretty embarrassing when the person providing the service is not doing anything wrong. In the event, it is not you…you may want to evaluate the places you are visiting and spending your money at. Although, in any role you have to be prepared to take the brunt of what someone gives off, even if you aren’t the person they are mad at while complaining or discussing an issue. I was in CVS the other night after work and as I approached the cashier, him and a woman seemed pretty deep in a discussion. I waited patiently until it was my turn. Once it was and the young lady had exited. The cashier proceeds to tell me the woman was upset, I thought that was odd as she just seemed engulfed in their discussion. He asked if I would like to discuss what they were talking about. I advised I had no idea what was being discussed. He said CVS was not going to be selling cigarettes anymore. He said the lady said that was dumb and then referenced it to weed laws. He said he had no idea where she was going with it, but just went along with the conversation. I said I would pass on that conversation and wished him a good night. Was it great customer service for him to extend on the conversation with the customer that wanted to share her opinion on cigarette sales and then into legal weed? I thought he did a great job of letting her vent and then she left. He didn’t have to share his opinion or details. She just wanted to be heard. I had to laugh in my head because we have all been there when a customer goes from what is going on to another topic and your gracefully wait for them to finish. :)
I have been with the company I am with now for almost eight years and this has been one thing that has been a top priority for the company since I started. They evaluate it when they review for performance and do quality monitoring. They are looking at the way you are handling both customers, internal and external. The way you handle your customers will directly impact the bottom line of a business.
One of my favorite places to frequent is Ten Eleven Grill. They not only have a grown environment, offer different types of entertainment, but also provided awesome customer service. The Candra and Dewayne Bryant will make time to come speak with you and check on you. They have been recognized in articles for such. You can tell in one visit that they care about their customers and want them to have a pleasant experience. It starts from the door, to the serving staff, the cook, to the band to the poets, and that call comes from the exuberant attitudes of the owners. They make it known to their staff that they want their customers to know they are valued.
**I will be a guest on the Say Something radio show w Lady T, tomorrow. Please tune in at TMIradio.com from 6-7 CST. **