The diversity in people always fascinates me. And when it comes to customer service, the differences in personalities can be particularly striking. It’s the people involved (rather than the specific product) that makes the service memorable in either a positive or negative way.
I often travel interstate to facilitate workshops. When I check into the hotel, I invariably ask for access to the room we’ll be using the next day. If the room is free, I can check the room set up, ensure materials sent ahead have arrived and unpack my training tools. I particularly like to pre-write some flip charts that I use for the first session.
If the designated room isn’t available, I ask if the paper and stands can be brought to my room instead. On a recent tour, this habit highlighted some interesting differences in customer service.
On asking for access to the workshop room, I’m told this is not possible. A frustrating five minutes of questioning on my part reveals that the employee has no idea how to help me or any apparent interest in doing so.
I ask the same question but this time meet with a very different response. Although the room is unavailable, the service provider takes the role of proactive questioner, determines my specific needs and considers beyond my immediate requests. Within five minutes, paper and stands arrive in my room complete with complimentary biscuits and coffee.
Implement a ‘can-do’ attitude and solution-based thinking
What a difference! I was so impressed I wrote about this on my feedback sheet and asked that my thanks and compliments be passed on to the relevant staff. I soon received a letter from the hotel manager, thanking me for my comments and mentioned he was pleased to hear this story, as new staff are trained in “a can-do attitude and solution-based thinking”.
What a wonderful idea! I have subsequently related this story in many customer service workshops and participants clearly get the message and its relevance to their work roles. I’ve identified five strategies to implement your own ‘can-do’ attitude:
1. Explore what you can do
It seems our brains have become well trained in focusing on what we can’t do.
2. Express an apology if you can’t meet the initial request
It is important to acknowledge the possible disappointment or frustration the other person may be feeling. For example, say, “This seems important to you, so I’d like to see what else I could do that may help.”
3. Avoid excuses and lengthy explanations
Your customer doesn’t want or need to know the reasons why you can’t do what they ask, they just want to know what can be done now.
4. Under promise, over deliver
Ask questions, be curious and think beyond the immediate moment. In my second hotel example, if I’d been told coffee and biscuits would be provided and then they didn’t arrive, I’d feel let down. But without the promise of these treats, their unexpected arrival certainly went beyond my service expectations.
5. Leave a positive, lasting impression on your client
This may well be the first and last chance you have to make a lasting positive impression on this person – and all the people they will talk to about their impressions of your company.