The Forgotten Art of Customer Service

You have, right now, in your company, the easiest, least expensive, yet most effective customer service tool at your disposal. Are you utilizing it?

It isn’t fancy rewards programs or coupons offering deep discounts (although those certainly help!). No, it’s plain ole courtesy.

Sound simple, right? Well, it seems that courtesy, politeness, if you will, is a dying art. It is getting harder and harder to find these days. But if you want to keep your customers (and have your customers refer you to their friends) you will pay attention and make courtesy a priority in your company.

Creating the moment for your customer

It only takes a moment to smile, look at a customer and let them know that you appreciate their business. Kindness, it seems, is quickly losing ground in this world as curt words and terse tones overshadow any pleasant remarks. One sharp word from your employee can annihilate ten kind words uttered.

This is important; I hope you are paying attention.

Example 1

I have been going to the same coffeehouse for more than two years. The staff was always polite and friendly. Lately, though, I have been considering going elsewhere to get my morning caffeine fix. There is one cashier who is just plain sour. She speaks sharply, never smiles and is downright rude.

The last time I stood before her, ordering my coffee she was so rude, made me feel so unwelcome, that I almost walked out of the store without getting anything. There are other coffeehouses nearby, maybe not as close as this one, but if the staff is friendlier, it is worth the extra steps.

Example 2

Another case in point: there are two grocery stores almost the same distance from me in different directions. One is easy to get to and has several shops that I visit located in the same complex. However, the staff isn’t very friendly, save for two or three employees.

The other store is not quite as easy to get to and I don’t visit any of the shops in the complex, yet I choose to shop at that store more than twice as often as the other. The reason? The staff is polite. They are kind, helpful and friendly. Yes, I have to wait in line much longer many times, but it is worth it to have a cashier smile at me, greet me and treat me as if I am valuable to the company.

Another time, I was about to terminate my contract with a cell phone service provider due to some problems I was having. However, the customer service representative was so polite, so helpful, I decided to remain a customer.

Yes, a little politeness goes a long way.

So as you are training your new employees and preparing them to interface with your customers, ask yourself, just how important are your customers to you? Are they important enough to mandate courtesy and politeness in your establishment? Yes, fancy rewards programs and deep discounts are fun and nice to have, but when your customers are standing face to face with your company (because your employees are the face of your company) just what are they seeing?

Food for thought

How many customers are you losing because they aren’t getting the easy, economical yet most effective customer service tool of simple courtesy?

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