Sometimes the best answer is the simplest. It’s amazing how often the solution is honestly right under our noses and in the case of customer service, the most basic lesson really does get us the most traction.
Be nice to your customers.
Wow, shocking, eh? I know it doesn’t sound like this huge revelation, but when was the last time you were out having dinner or picking up a new pair of pants or browsing for the perfect widget when someone truly surprised you with kindness? I’m guessing it hasn’t happened that recently.
Often what I encounter out in the universe isn’t so much bad service or mean front line associates (although they are out there), but more often is just outright apathy.
I’m reminds of the old joke:
The customer asks the front line associate “Are you ignorant or apathetic?”
To which the employee replies, “I don’t know and I don’t care.”
All kidding aside, the point is clear. The gap in service out there really does present a fantastic opportunity to differentiate your business. With so many shooting for the moon and falling flat or not even trying at all, it creates a huge opening within which you can win.
The best part is that you don’t even have to be amazing to be considered amazing. By all means, knock out the basics and shoot for that exemplary level of service – but if you just cover the basics, you’ll be seen as a cut above the field.
So what exactly does being nice look like? Try these basics:
Be polite and smile.
Stay positive throughout the interaction. No one cares if you or your team is having a terrible day.
Stand up straight and look your Guest in the eyes.
Remember what you mom taught you about “please” and “thank you.”
Be mindful of your tone of voice. Again, your mom told it wasn’t what you said but how you said it. . .she was right there, too.
Be knowledgeable about your craft. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it really is okay to admit it and promise to follow up. Just don’t forget to close the loop.
Be grateful for your customers’ business and make sure they feel appreciated.
Treat them as you would a guest in your home. Make them feel special and do whatever it takes to exceed their expectations.
All in all, there are no secrets here. You honestly have to wake up every day and make a conscious decision to be nice. You also have to decide that you will do whatever it takes to inspire your team to be nice. It really is just that easy – and that hard. In a business world where results sing, social media rules, and success measures change constantly, it’s easy to get bogged down and forget about something as rudimentary as just being nice.
But don’t let that get in your way. Take a few minutes each day on your way to work to get centered – and by that I mean put the customer at the center of your thinking. Craft a plan to keep hospitality top of mind throughout the day and then execute when you hit your dirt.
So when you are coaching your teams to drive great customer service, start by telling them to be nice. Keeping it simple can help you inspire that level of service which will set you apart.
Tony Johnson Customer Service Leader and Trainer @Service Recipe