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The Six Canons of Great Service – Part IV: Treat Your Customer as a Cherished Friend

Best friend stickers.

This can’t just be a slogan – it has to be baked into your DNA.

If you can’t put the customer at the center of your everyday life, then you’re sunk. Let’s face it, most businesses ask their teams to do just this – treat Customers well and take great care of them. The reality is often very different as the slogans, training, and expectations fall to the wayside in favor of apathy and lukewarm execution.

This is frustrating at its core because the laminated cards that get posted in break rooms and at time clocks promise a much better reality.

You have to inspire your team to embrace this concept and pay it more than lip service. Here is an exercise which you may find useful to motivate your team. This is something I have used in pre-shift huddles and in training workshops to get folks on the front lines in the right frame of mind.

Ask them close their eyes. Yes, really. Stop rolling your eyes for two minutes and stay with me. By the way, this might not be a bad exercise for leaders as well.

So go ahead, close your eyes. Take a beat. Relax. Now think about the most special person or people in your life. It could be your mom, your sister, your husband, your favorite uncle, your boyfriend, or your kids. Chances are you have that one special person for whom you would move mountains. Now keep them in your mind’s eye and ask yourself how you’d like them to be treated when they visit businesses out there in the universe. Better yet, how would you treat them if they stopped into your business?

Chances are you want them to be treated with respect, deference, and hospitality.

So take that feeling. Bottle it. And use it to drive great service. This may sound like a simple exercise, but getting everyone in the right frame of mind to deliver on the promise of great service pays more dividends than you might think. Thinking of folks in your business as cherished friends and not just customers, patrons, or clients will really help you and your team deliver.

Let’s face it, Customer Service is something you would expect from a transactional activity. But true hospitality is how we treat guests in our homes or how neighbors treat neighbors. There is powerful juju in those types of thoughts and it can spread as quickly through your organization as the flu in October if you just give it a push.

The trick here is to not let this dream whither on the cork board along with so many other well-meaning programs.

Just as we have discussed with safety, this has to be something that is nurtured, modeled, and appreciated throughout the day. While there may occasionally be a big WOW, the majority of this effort will be felt in the common, daily interactions that may not be, on their face, all that special. But they are made special by the care taken with each and every Customer. The respect, the genuine caring, and the deep desire to please must be felt between the words as the cheeseburger is delivered or the package is prepared for shipping.

The proof will come when you set a fantastic example and model these behaviors yourselves. If you, as a Leader, choose to deliver great care to your Customers, your team will absolutely pick up on that and show them that same love as well.

Best of luck making some new friends this week.

Tony Johnson -Customer Service Leader-


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