Back to the (Customer Service) Basics

Is there something on my face?  Do I have bad breath?  Missing a tooth that I’ve been previously unaware of?

All of those thoughts and more cross my mind every single time I visit the drive-through and the individual sitting in that window virtually refuses to look me in the eye when taking my money or handing me my order.  If I weren’t for the fact that I’m composed of something (albeit slightly) stronger than sticks and stones, the lack of eye contact might begin to hurt me.  But I think that, perhaps, it really has less to do with me than it does a lack of training or a big picture perspective.

“But Scott, this is not the job I want.  I don’t really want to be here.  This is only a stepping stone.  I’m only doing this because everybody starts out serving up a Number Three Combo with a large Coke Zero, no ice.”  Speaking of, sounds kind of like one of my fast food orders.  Starting to get hungry now.

But I digress.

Yes, I understand that you might not have imagined as a youth that you’d one day be wearing a name tag at Burger Heaven and dropping the fries into the fryer.  I’ve been there myself, I get that sentiment.  You are, however, currently employed there.  And as an employee of the company, positive customer service is your responsibility for 100% of your encounters with each and every customer – both internal and external.  Even though your management might have taken you through the scripted and packaged company line on customer service, it can be challenging to maintain that expectation throughout your shift, whether you’re at Burger Heaven or Al’s Mart of Stuff.

Customer service isn’t rocket science, but sometimes we get so wrapped up in our work that we forget what our job really is – positive customer service experiences.  We (presumably) want to stay employed?  For that to happen, customers need to come back for repeat experiences.  And if they’re not receiving the experience they expect and deserve, they’ll find somewhere else to spend their money.  It’s a process that has caused many companies to close their doors.  Don’t take care of your customer, then somebody else will.

So maybe what we need is to get back to basics.  If you feel like your or your company’s customer service needs to get back on-track, I offer up the following tips:

1.)  Smile!!  That’s right, it’s as simple as that.  When you smile at your customer, you’re showing them that it’s your pleasure to be serving them (a lesson we can all learn from our friends at Chik-fil-A).  It also breaks your own stress cycle and helps improve your mood.  Try it, you may be surprised.  For better or for worse, wear that smile.  Plus it takes fewer muscles to smile as it does to frown.  I’ve never personally counted, but I’ll take their word for it.

2.)  Don’t just tell them – show them.“Well yes sir, the Prune-o-Matic machines are over on aisle 13.”  Awesome, now where exactly is aisle 13?  Where on aisle 13?  I don’t seem them IN aisle 13, now where did that twerp go??  Yeah, we’ve all been there.  It’s aggravating and not very professional.  If a customer is looking for something specific, don’t tell her where to go find it…take her there and make sure she connects with that product.

3.)  Eye contact (just not too much) – The opposite of zero eye contact is akin to starting a staring contest.  You’re not trying to reach into their soul or look like a statue.  You’re simply giving pleasant eye contact and letting the customer know they have your focus.  Even though you have fifty other things to do at that moment, that person has all of you.  When you give good eye contact and your winning smile, the impression you leave on them is priceless.

4.)  For goodness sakes, say “Thank you.”  While you’re looking at him and smiling, when you’ve concluded the encounter, just say “thank you.”  I’m not sure where the art of courtesy has disappeared (unless it’s gone with the missing socks in my dryer), but this absolutely needs to be brought back.  Saying “thank you” is very much a recognition extended to the customer for doing business with you and your company.  They are also an open door to return for more business.  Two words.  Infinite impact.

Nothing fancy or out of the ordinary.  Just simply the basics that, sadly, too many businesses are either not pushing or employees aren’t incorporating into their daily routines.  Spread the word, get back to the basics and enjoy your customers and your work again.

QUESTION:  How do you and your company deliver excellent customer service to your customers?

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