Decades ago, when it came to servicing customers — even before customer service was a term — people took the task seriously. If you went to a hardware store, you talked with someone who lived and breathed the business — and it wasn’t just the sawdust floating in the air. Their mission was to help you, and since they knew their business and products inside and out, it came to them easily. Now when I go into a big box hardware store, I’m surprised if I speak with someone who can point me in the general direction of what I need, let alone know what to do with it if I ask a question about it.
Lately I’ve noticed that with few exceptions, no matter what I’m doing, buying, or calling, I generally expect the customer service experience to be terrible. I anticipate whomever I deal with won’t have a clue how to help me and either they’ll make up an answer they think will suffice so they can send me on my way, or — even worse — they’ll knowingly give me the wrong answer to get rid of me.
Crappy customer service can often be boiled down to one thing: a lack of care — either for the customer, the job, and in the worst cases both.
Recently, I tweeted to FedEx Office to tell them one of their employees did a great job helping me print a parking pass when I was running late for a concert. To be fair, he was helpful (and adorable, insisting I get my parking pass in color because that’s what I paid for via the FedEx Office app), but years ago that type of service was standard; today I was so astounded by it that I was compelled to send a thank you tweet.
So if standard service is the new exceptional, think about how much actual extraordinary customer service and customer care can elevate you.
When I come across someone who cares, someone who is an expert, I want to ask all the questions. I want them to be working every time I come into the store. I want their direct extension, possibly their cell phone, and maybe their mother’s number.
Be that expert that is missing in so many areas of business today. Understand the products you offer; bring unexpected ideas, and stay on top of trends. Learn all you can about your customers, their difficulties, their expectations. Care about them and how you can help them. Because they’ll notice the difference — and might even tweet about it.