The other day I was reminded of what customer service is and what it isn’t.
So here is what happened: I went into Lowe’s do by one of those canopies. They’re 10 x 10 for the most part and only really designed for shade. I needed one for a trade show that I was doing at a golf course where I was a sponsor of a hole. I didn’t want to have to sit in the sun all day so thought buying a canopy would be a great idea…
Or so I thought.
As I was browsing the store I couldn’t find the canopies so I asked the first associate (as Lowe’s likes to call them) and see where they were. I was informed very professionally that they didn’t have any. Of course shocked that the HUGE store that Lowe’s is that they wouldn’t have such a thing so maybe the associate didn’t know what I was referring to, so I thought I’d explain.
Nope. No canopies.
Okay. As hard as that is to believe it does sometimes happen as the store may run out or whatever. But that is not the story.
The story is that associate just ended the conversation right there. Done. Finito!
I walked out of Lowe’s right upset not because they didn’t have the canopy or because the associate was rude, but because I was not given any customer service. NONE.
So some of you may be asking why are you upset. He answered your questions, it is not his fault that the store didn’t have a canopy.
True. It is not the associate’s fault that Lowe’s didn’t have what I was looking for IN THE STORE. But neither did he even try to see if another store may have it, or to see if it was online, or even (and some of you may gasp at this) to see if maybe Menard’s or Home Depot may have them. He did NOTHING. He just ended the conservation like I didn’t matter.
And that was why I upset.
The Art of Customer Service
Customer Service isn’t about just answering questions or pointing out where the merchandise maybe. It’s about taking care of the customer. It’s putting them FIRST and making sure that not only are their question answered but that they are satisfied. Customer service is giving superior service in abundance, more than what the customer may pay for or want.
In my business, I hope that my guys are servicing the hell out our customers. I know most of them do a great job, and the ones that don’t we get rid of…quickly.
Here’s a cool little experiment for you all to do:
- Think of a time that you had great customer service
- Remember what they did exactly and how it made you feel.
- Figure out how you and your employees can do the same in your business.
Now do this:
- Think of time where you had horrible customer service.
- Remember what the person did exactly and how it made you feel.
- Figure out how to NEVER do that.
Before I hire anyone and during their job interview I ask everyone those three same questions. If they can’t do the exercise then I don’t hire them especially if they can’t figure out how to never give horrible customer service.
Businesses that master the art of customer service do the best.
The Customer is always right
You know it was all that long ago where there was a saying that businesses used to follow. It was “the customer is always right.”
Now the older of you may remember this motto. Some may even have lived by it earlier. Most everyone else will think that is old fashioned and no longer applicable in this age. Well maybe not. But the sentiment behind is ALWAYS valid.
In the old days when this was the motto businesses went out of their way to ensure that the customer was given every accord that they profitably give even if it meant giving the item for free. And is where this sentiment broke down.
You see great customer service doesn’t mean give away free stuff (although sometimes that is appropriate .) It means doing more than was expected for the customer to be happy.
I hear the new buzz word of “brand loyalty” blah blah blah.
How banal. That is a self centered idea and quite honestly comes from a greedy and small mind.
What you should be doing is being loyal to the customer. Build up that loyalty FIRST then the brand loyalty will follow. Get rid of the personal pronouns in your words except for “you”, “them” and so on. Just scratch out the “I” and “me.”
The Four Conditions of Customer Service
So you want to see the big bucks then you need to learn of these four conditions of customer service (or you can call them the 4 Conditions of Exchange. Whatever makes you feel better):
- No service – pretty self explanatory. This is where is there is no service. This is what I got when I went to Lowe’s the other day
- Poor Service – again, self explanatory (at least I hope so.)
- Fair service – this is where most businesses operate. customer comes in buys an item and leaves. Gets exactly what they wanted and nothing more. The
- Service in abundance – This is where the business owner or associates give more than was expected. It is not free service but more service than was expected. It can mean giving something for free but for the most part is service MORE than was expected.
I would say ( and this is my opinion) that 80% of businesses, both large and small, only give fair service. 10% give poor service (businesses like Comcast, etc). 8% give no service (I know that what you are saying right but Yes businesses can give “no service”.) and only 2% will give service in abundance.
And if you have no idea where you fall in the above scale simply do the the exercise that I detailed above and you will quickly discover where you fall on the service scale.