Good customer service is a slippery slope.

Customer Service, what defines it?

It is my opinion that to define what Customer service is, you must first define what is a customer. A customer as defined in Webster’s dictionary is “someone who buys from or uses the services of a company, especially regularly”. I tend to extend that definition to include anyone that you perform a service whether you are getting paid or not. How that service is perceived by the person receiving the service or product determines the level of customer service provided. Even when we think we have done our best to provide the greatest level of service possible, the actuality of how great that service was is based on the perception of the “customer”. One sure way to ensure that your customer receives the greatest possible service is a two-step process.

First, know your customer. This is not as difficult as you may think. Where you work is a key giveaway to what type of customer you will be servicing. If you are a waitperson in a restaurant, you can expect your customer to be a person that comes there for a meal. Depending on which type of food establishment you are working at makes it easier to determine how to best serve your customer. Take this scenario as an example: A couple comes into a fine dining restaurant where you work and is seated at their table with menus, which is in your section. You come to the table and ask if they are ready to order or need a few more moments to check out the menu. They say that they need a few more minutes, so you excuse yourself and say that you will come back in a couple of minutes and then turn and leave. Seeing as the waitperson in this scenario was nice and polite and attended to the couple within moments of them being seated, do you think that is good customer service? Let’s look at this scenario in a different way. As the couple is seated and are looking at their menu, the waitperson comes to the table with a pitcher of ice water and pours fills both glasses. While doing this he/she introduces them self and starts making some small talk. She asks if the couple is ready to order, which they are not, so he/she says they will give them a few minutes and check back. Is that a better display of customer service? While in both instances the waitperson did what was required, you would probably agree that in the second scenario the interactions were much better.

Secondly, to make customer service better you must put yourself in their shoes. That old saying “Do unto others as you would have done to you” is only the beginning. You need to take it to the next level and go one step beyond what you would normally expect. Treating each customer as if they were you is one sure fire way to provide the greatest service possible. There are no second opportunities to make a good first impression. The attitude and atmosphere you project should make your customer feel that they are the most important person in the world. Getting to know your customer and being able to anticipate their needs is what makes a customer service person, no matter what industry they are in, a very valuable asset.

Remember this, if you want to be the best customer service provider possible you must put forth the effort. You do this by projecting confidence in yourself. You do this by wanting to make others feel as good or better than what you would expect for yourself. It takes time. It takes confidence. But most importantly, it takes pride in yourself.

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