I really appreciate customer service. So obvious, because who wouldn’t, right? In a world where we are overwrought with how-to, inspirational books, videos, posts, blogs, and whatever on providing great customer service, it’s surprising how many businesses don’t have a flippin’ clue on how to provide great customer service – nada, zip, none, mic drop out.
Is it a secret that’s really that simple, or simple enough to overlook? We watch shows about Michelin rated restaurants, world-class clothing designers (who come off as somewhat snotty buttheads, masquerading as world-class clothing designers), and reality TV stars who fire people for not providing great customer service (wait a minute... didn’t we just elect a guy.... hold it, er, yes, oh boy...). To me, customer service is the auto mechanic that knows your ‘73 Olds Cutlass has a quirk about pulling to the right at around 60 m.p.h, so he continues to tinker and tweak with your ride, almost like a quest or personal mission to get it right.
Customer service is a waitress that knows you like your baked potato with beef and broccoli, cooked a little well done, then she throws in some extra fries, on the house.
Customer service is a teacher who takes a personal interest in making sure your kid gets through trigonometry this semester, trying to ease the fear of the unknown of advanced high school math. As my wife says, it’s all in the details, and this I know to be true. Because people know when they aren’t being treated with good service. Woe be to those who are indifferent, complacent, and all -assuming, because it just doesn’t end well, cowpokes and cowgirls.
I’m still working on customer service, every day. I think it’s a life-long quest, especially if you deal with the public a lot at work. Paying attention, keeping your radar up, knowing when you’re full of bull hockey, doing what’s right and fair, just being ethical, not taking things for granted – there’s a laundry list of items. It’s real-world stuff that’s not easily transferred from the classroom to the streets. And face it, all of us have worked in some crapola jobs where we wonder why we need customer service skills. I think that’s the litmus test right there. Think of that low-on-the-totem gig you had, the one that really prompted you to think about post-high education a little harder. Were you thinking of customer service then?
Heck no – you were just thinking about rent, pizza, and beer money, man! But maybe a few of us were, and right then, we were on the path to honing those skills. Reading people, reading cues, knowing your business practices – how can I help you, ma’am/sir? Know your customer – it’s almost a Zen thing, no, it IS a Zen thing.
Customer service, to me, is imperative, especially on a local level. Why? I think it’s critical more so than ever. This could be your neighbor that you’re doing business with, kiddo. And if you don’t deliver, if it’s serving food, fixing their car, bagging groceries, or taking their blood pressure, even if they don’t say anything, they know if the goods aren’t there.
Oh sure, no problem, yeah, the steak is fine, not too overly cooked (which really, it’s like chewing on a rubber Hazmat suit). Then privately, they tell their friends like it is, and your rep secretly, or publicly takes a beating (now do you want to check those tweets, and social media feeds?). I think even if you were the only thing going in your town, to sit on your laurels, thinking yeah, they will always come back, because really, where else are they going to go? To assume so much is like giving the ball to Tom Brady, when the Pats are down by three, with thirty seconds left in the fourth quarter. It’s a sure thing that you’re going to get dumped. Why be so pretentious anyway? That’s the cardinal sin of customer service, pronto hasta.
I learned a lot about customer service from people who are good at it, by assimilating it into their daily lives to serve the greater good, and do what’s right. Does it always happen? No. Do we forget to do it in our own daily lives? Yes, but examples to remember and live by. It’s hard to keep up, but easy to understand, if you’re paying attention at all.
So, the next time you experience good customer service, especially in the City Beautiful, tip well, and tip often!