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It seems that most companies pride themselves on their customer service.  They invest in training programs, performance incentives, surveys and much more in attempts to measure up.  And yet, it seems, so many efforts fall short of the intended goal.  Why do we make it so hard?  As I see it, there are four broad themes that we have to understand and master in our customer service process.  If you get these themes right on a consistent basis, then you are going to like your overall results.

  1. Attitude
  2. Care
  3. Don’t take it personally
  4. Customers talk

I’m going to cover each of these themes in separate blog posts.  Let’s start with ‘Attitude.’

Theme 1: Attitude

Smile.  Have you ever been in a store and approached a clerk who upon seeing you broke into a broad smile, greeted you and then went out of his/her way to truly understand what you needed help with?  How did it make you feel?  It probably made you feel pretty special and endeared to that clerk (and that store).  Unfortunately, this type of customer experience is hit or miss.  It’s a powerful opportunity for organizations to create ‘positive customer experience’ and it’s too often missed. 

Do you realize all the benefits that are derived from smiling?  It relieves stress, boosts our immune system, lowers our blood pressure, makes us look younger, helps us stay more positive and it’s contagious too.  When we smile, it’s more than likely we will make others smile along with us!  What’s not to like about that?  You can even look at it this way – I’m smiling for me!  The customer just happens to be the beneficiary of my healthy smiling habit.  I energize them, relax them and help them be more comfortable communicating with me.  So the next time you have a client interaction, start it with a big, genuine smile.

You become what you think.  When you act and react to people, your attitude is on display.  Are your thoughts positive or negative? 

My good friend, Glenn Van Ekeren, is CEO of a large medical services company and an accomplished author and speaker.  One of his most popular presentations is, “Being a Picker-Upper Person.”  Glenn not only teaches the principles of positive attitude – he lives it and models it every day.  Whenever I’ve been with Glenn, I feel better about myself.  He helps me to not take myself so seriously and to find life’s real satisfaction in serving others.  In short, he is the ultimate Picker-Upper Person! 

What if you become that Picker-Upper Person with your customers?  How will that make your customers feel about themselves?  How will that make them feel about their ‘customer experience’ with you?  I’m going to guess that it will make a big and positive difference with most customers.  And although you’re creating that experience, it reflects on the entire organization.  Give it a try, you’ll feel better about yourself. 

Your first words and actions are important.  There is a famous saying that goes something like this:  “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”  Who are the ‘first responders’ when a customer makes contact with your organization?  It might be a clerk, receptionist, or service technician.  Whoever it is, it is critically important to understand that they represent your organization.  How will they (and you) be perceived?  Do you have service standards that guide these initial interactions?

Remember, how you dress, initiate communication and end any interaction are all critical to how customers choose who they will do business with. 

So…what’s your first impression?

customer service

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