The Power of Customer Service

Before diving into something profound and astute (who are we kidding) – I have one simple question for you: When someone says “Customer Service”, what comes to mind?

For me, as a virtual company and an online shopping enthusiast:

  • Long hold times on the phone or via chat (yes – I have had to be on hold for 2 hours in a chat window).
  • Support tickets that take days to receive the inevitable snippy response.
  • A customer service individual that I can barely understand or who restates my problem and gives me a generic response from the script in front of them (if person complains about A – apologize and say this…).

In other words, I don’t have the most positive feedback about Customer Service and Customer Support.

Full disclosure: Before I go any further – I was trained by the Disney Institute in 2003. I worked for Magic Kingdom and part of our initial training was to go through the same courses that companies pay THOUSANDS to attend. So when I notice customer service – I am noticing it through Disney trained eyes with a dash of the L.A.S.T methodology.

Is this something that has just recently come to light – no. In 2005, I wrote an opt-in piece titled “Customer Service is Dead” (or some variation of that). 14 years later, I believed this still held true – until a visit to Chipotle and Trader Joe’s gave me a gleam of hope (and the inspiration to write this blog).

My Chipotle story was observed, not experienced.

Heads up – both stories are kinda long so if you want to just get to the point, skip three paragraphs.

I was standing in line and there were two women who were placing their orders. One was somewhat loud, quite rude, and very demanding. Her friend was more on the passive side and if she didn’t speak loud enough or state her opinion strong enough, her friend did it for her. The passive one, closest to me, was a vegetarian. Why is this important? Chipotle’s policy is if they are handling an order that is subject to allergies or dietary restrictions, they are supposed to change their gloves.

The woman assisting these two customers was AMAZING! She met each demand with a smile and courtesy. I witnessed her change her gloves FIVE times for two orders. She even had to redo the rice bowl because the customer didn’t like the fact that the bowl was sitting too closely to the chicken on the prep line. The two customers took FOREVER with a line wrapped around to the door BUT the employee never stopped providing 110%.

My Trader Joe’s experience tickles me. There is an employee who collects carts. This is all he does. Now this seems like the most mundane job (no judgment – a job is a job!) but this guy makes it so much fun. You would think he was being paid six figures! He greets every customer going into the store. He is always smiling, insanely friendly, and enthusiastic (to say the least). If he remembers you, he welcomes you “Back to the family”. If he sees you getting into your car, he waves and wishes you a wonderful day and invites you back. I remember standing at the register and I told the cashier “I have never seen someone love their job as much as that guy”. Her response “He’s great and he is always like that. He really loves what he does and the customers that shop here.” 

My overall point – great customer service is still alive!

Yes, it may be hard to find but it does exist.

Have I had my fair share of bad experiences, sadly yes. Here are a few more that come to mind:

  • Waiting at the customer service desk for a gentleman to finish his text message before acknowledging me. Please note – each customer service window requires a number to be called before you can approach it. He watched me walk up, picked up his phone, and once he was finished – he put it down and assisted me so there wasn’t a point where he didn’t know I was standing there.
  • Waiting for a cashier to finish her conversation with a bagger about a party she attended. She had one hand on the first item on the conveyor belt while having this conversation and was determined to finish it before she began ringing my order.
  • The countless encounters I have had at a fast food restaurant where the individual clearly wants to be anywhere else and has no desire to hide it.

Listen, I have lived in the world of minimum wage, long hours, and crappy customers. The lowest I ever made was $2.13 an hour as a waitress when I lived in Florida (the legal minimum wage for servers at the time). From the employee’s side, I understand not being “paid enough” to deal with the attitudes of some people. That person who has a walked in with a chip on their shoulder and is determined to have someone push it off. The best story is a woman who threw orange juice on a co-worker during a Black Friday sale at Circuit City because we sold out of something she wanted.

Here’s the deal, it’s not about you (the employee, contractor, owner, etc). It is about the customer and their overall experience. We are human and life gets in the way sometimes but learn to suck it up.

Having a fight with your significant other? Check it at the door. Client ticking you off again, swallow it down and kill them with kindness. Being asked for the thousandth time if your hand swelled up because you are wearing a Mickey hand while greeting guest – you say “No, good one!” with a smile and enthusiasm as if it is the first time you heard that joke.

Why? One acronym that will make or break your business – WOM (word of mouth).

From Inc.com:

Understanding how customers interact with your brand and the customer experience you create is vital in your success. Consider the following:

  1. When customers are unhappy, there’s a 91 percent chance they won’t do business with a company again (Lee Resources).
  2. Dissatisfied customers typically tell nine to 15 other people about their experience; some tell 20 or more (White House Office of Consumer Affairs).
  3. A negative customer experience is the reason 86 percent of consumers quit doing business with a company (Customer Experience Impact Report).

Word of mouth is EVERYTHING. By creating memorable experiences, you increase the likelihood of someone doing business with you by 42%.

In you only take away one thing from this, it is that your business depends on your customer/client’s experience. It may take an extra second, minute, hour to go the extra mile but ask yourself this: In the age of Yelp and Google Reviews, isn’t it worth it?

Start a conversation…

What good or bad experiences have you had? If you own a business, how do you go above and beyond for your clients? Share in the comments.

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About the Author kopfconsulting

Over 12 years of experience as a CRM and EMS Specialist.
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