By Steve Conde
Mary Sandro is a consultant that specializes in helping companies achieve results through exceptional customer service and innovative hiring techniques (www.proedgeskills.com). She wrote a blog for “Promotional Consultant Today”, in which she tells this story:
“I arrived late at a hotel dressed for the cold weather in brown boots and heavy trousers. When I got to my room I unpacked only to discover that I had left my black heels at home, which I needed to wear for an early morning presentation.
I went to the concierge for help. It was after 10 pm. Nothing was open. I pressed the concierge, “There’s nothing that can be done?” Silence. The concierge contemplated further then asked, “What size are you?” I blurted out my shoe size. The concierge stepped out from behind the desk, pointed to the black heels on her feet and asked, “Will these work?” She gave me the shoes right off of her feet!”
She goes on to say:
“I have observed that companies and professionals practicing creative customer service successfully have two things in common.
The first commonality is that they care. Management cares. Employees care. Everyone cares a great deal about people. They like to help people solve problems. The concierge at the hotel cared about my shoe predicament and personally decided to go above and beyond. How much does your company care? How much do you care?
The second commonality is that employees have authority. Even when people care, if their hands are tied, they can’t help. In addition, employees who aren’t especially “caring” might be motivated to be creative for customers simply because it feels good to exercise their authority. Do you have enough authority to be creative?
Doing a good job isn’t good enough to separate from the pack. The prize will go to the one creating new frontiers. How far will you go to Wow a customer?”
A number of years ago, Tom Peters wrote an award winning masterpiece called, “Search For Excellence” in which he noted the same principle. Extraordinary customer service makes the difference and that is what customers are looking for, not just cheap prices. Oh, sure, there are those who can’t think of anything but “cheap” but there are many more who are tired of sacrificing quality and service and personal attention for a few dollars.
I know some customers can be troublesome and I know how much stress there can be in a shop like yours or mine but customers are what make everything happen. They have to come first, even when they are acting like jerks, and sometimes they do. If a customer is so much trouble you don’t want to serve them, tell them to take their business somewhere else. Otherwise, each and every one deserves the best customer service you can give. If it isn’t already, make it your motto and empower everyone in your organization to make sure it happens. Condé goes above and beyond to try to do that with each and every phone call and it works. In most cases, even the most difficult customers hang up feeling that the people here really do care. That’s the secret to Condé’s success and it can be your secret too!