I read a terrific post by David Meerman Scott recently that rekindled my ongoing passion for spectacular customer service. Then I made my second trip to a local car dealer to get some critical recall replacement work done on my ancient but incredibly loyal car.
I suppose the fellow who processed my paperwork thought he was providing great customer service. His attitude and words were, I’m sure, verbatim copies of what he got in the dealership’s training programs.
But…everything was a smidge too quickly delivered…too “tick off the steps on my mental ‘great customer service’ list” wordy.
The problem, in my cynical not-enough-coffee-yet mind, was that his spiel was almost identical to the pitch I got the last disastrous time I came to this dealership for the exact same service…that, due to a laundry list of total service screw-ups, never happened.
Okay…for those of you who have put up with my ranting and raving over the years…here we go.
The key to quality customer service is engagement with the customer.
- To make this happen, you have to care about the product or service you represent.
- Then you have to care about the customer’s connection with that product or service.
- Then you have to make the connection between the two, blending attitudes and perceptions into a seamless experience.
I “preached” this scenario year-after-year to my students at Curry College where I headed the Communication Department’s Public Relations Concentration and taught most of the undergraduate public relations courses.
“Passion” has always been a key element in my examples. If you truly love what you’re doing and understand deep inside why it benefits your customer, you’re not “working”…you’re sharing your love with others.
I know that sounds totally Zen-ish, but I’m not sitting here staring at my navel and chanting. I’m talking about what kept me totally engaged both as a public relations professional and, later, as a public relations professor. Again…“passion.”
Sadly, experience tells me that this idyllic situation doesn’t exist for everyone. But that doesn’t mean you should just curl up and meekly accept “what is.”
Look at your job…its requirements…its demands on you as the agent in the customer-service cycle.
- Is there room for you to personalize the service you’re providing?
- Do you feel as though you’re fulfilling your own aspirations as a customer service provider?
- Is this where you really want to be?
My rationale for that last question is just this…sometimes things aren’t going to change. So you will have to change!
Now this last bit addresses an unavoidable fact. Your job satisfaction and your success in providing outstanding customer service depend on you and your approach to the challenges.
You have to face and evaluate the realities of what you’re doing. How do you feel when you get up in the morning…or whenever it is you go to work? I once had a job that required…temporarily…that I be at work at 3 AM. I survived but hated every minute of every day.
Do you wake up and mutter “Gotta go to ‘work’”? Or, when you wake up, do you smile and start thinking about ways in which you can make a difference for your customers?
Your attitude toward your job and your belief in the product or service that you represent will make all the difference in your success in providing outstanding customer service and not just be mouthing a sales pitch.