Providing great customer service starts with our own desire to want to help others. It's also our ability to utilize patience, kindness, and empathy when serving others. Unfortunately, today in our society these critically important attributes are hard to come by. Why is that? Well I believe there are many factors in play that have significantly contributed to the fraying of our society’s moral fabric with respect to providing exceptional customer service. In essence, it's the value we place on helping other people.
When I was growing up, I vividly remember the trips to the local "service" station where getting fuel was a really fun experience. It all started when the vehicle’s front tire rolled over an air hose on the ground and a loud bell alerted the "service" attendants. Yes, most often there was more than one friendly service attendant who arrived to service our vehicle. I remember being mesmerized by all the activity and how quickly they added fuel, checked the fluid levels under the hood, inspected the tire pressure in each tire, and cleaned the windows. And last but not least, a sweet lollipop for me and my siblings. Oh how I loved going to the service station.
For me and my family it was all about the wonderful experience. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Maya Angelou. "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Unfortunately now the majority of so called service we encounter at businesses is "self-service". This basically means help yourself. I understand that in some instances it is a matter of a quick convenience for customers or it can reduce prices. I get it. Consequently, it is still contributing to the decline of great customer service in our society.
In fact, most everyone that I speak with regarding the diminishing levels of customer service in our society have their own fair share of horrible experience stories. Unfortunately, one common theme prevailed during these conversations; we all have lowered our expectations when it comes to receiving great customer service. So now when we do have a great experience we are really impressed.
The advancements in technology (cell phones, etc.) and alternate/remote communication (self-service kiosks, online shopping, etc.) channels have led to a steep decline in interpersonal socialization. As a result, many young adults who are in the workforce are finding it extremely difficult to interact and communicate effectively with co-workers and customers in person. If our employees’ cannot communicate effectively and don’t have the necessary interpersonal skills, how can we expect them to build meaningful relationships and enhance the customer experience? We simply can’t.
Here is one thing I know for sure. As long as people still value strong relationships in our society, exceptional customer service is needed to build trust into our brand and strengthen much needed loyalty. It doesn't matter what business or industry you are in, like it or not, you are in the relationship business. In my experience, people enjoy doing business with people they like and great service is what always keeps them coming back. Another favorite quote of mine is from retired CEO of Starbucks Howard Schultz who said, "We are not in the coffee business serving people, but in the people business serving coffee."
My entire professional career has been focused on helping businesses develop world-class sales and service teams to strengthen customer trust and loyalty. If you would like to learn more on how you can build a world-class sales or service culture into your organization, please visit my website at www.frontlineservicesolutions.com