The Secret to Great Customer Service?

[Cartoon; In Hell] Oh man! The coffee's _cold_! They thought of _everything_!What is the secret to great customer service???  Any thoughts???  I would challenge you that most of us have been the recipients of great customer service.  Most of us have been the recipients of horrible customer service!!!!  Some of us might have actually been the deliverers of great or terrible service!!!!

So ... back to the original question  - what is the secret to great customer service?  I believe the answer is that there is no secret!

I remember the first time I walked into a restaurant - as a waitress!  No training, no previous experience, no guidance!  I was handed a notepad and told to take orders!  Oh, my!  The sweat started to pour!  Absolutely terrified, I thought that I was going to faint!  What would I say or do?  Then, suddenly, it occurred to me!  How would I want to be approached or treated??? The light bulb flashed on!!  That is the answer!  Treat others the way that I would like to be treated!!!  I proceeded to take the orders, mess up some, and learn to appreciate how challenging and rewarding working with the public can truly be!  

I have since gone on to work in many jobs that involved working with the public in either a direct or an indirect capacity.  I have been a waitress, bartender, store clerk, secretary, teacher, and volunteer. I have learned a lot from each of these experiences.  I have learned a lot from other people, both in the way they have treated me and the way they have treated each other.

These are a few of the things that I have learned about great customer service:

  • Treat others the way that you would like to be treated.  They might not always respond in kind, but that is their problem, not yours.
  • Smile and look people in the eye when you deal with them.  
  • Focus on what they are telling you - not only verbally, but also pay attention to nonverbal clues.  Make a point of trying to read body language.  
  • Try not to take rudeness personally.  "Wear the world like a loose blanket."  People who work mainly in the front lines are often targets for a person's frustration.  It is important to stand your ground, but not give in to the temptation to retaliate.  That can be a challenge, but you will develop great self-control and patience.
  • Respond immediately.  It is important to get back to a customer or client as quickly as possible.  I remember back in my waitressing days, when the restaurant was very busy, acknowledging that you have seen a customer and would get to them as soon as possible, would help prevent frustration.  Most people will appreciate the fact that you have done that.  
  • Don't make promises unless you will keep them.
  • Respond to your customers - complaints from customers should be valued as much as positive comments - respond immediately, listen, take action
  • Treat all customers with respect.
  • Be helpful!  Sometimes the smallest gesture will mean so much!
  • Have a positive friendly attitude.  This is so critical!

Mercer's Marine, a well-known and thriving local business, has a reputation for getting orders out the same day that they are received.  That impressed me so much that I determined to make it a mandate of my business - we make every effort to make sure that orders are processed as efficiently as possible, and are shipped within 24 hours.

Good customer service is all about ensuring that clients are happy with their purchase and/or experience.  It is all about bringing them back.

If you were asked what you believe is the secret to great customer service, what would you say?  I would challenge you that there is no secret to great customer service.

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