I’m writing this to get you to think about an important ingredient that should be part of any formula for success—customer service.  You may agree, we are often subject to poor customer service these days.  Think about the last time you said to yourself, “I will never do business with that company again.” Or, “I will never step foot in that restaurant or store again.”

On a positive note, think about the last experience when you were delighted with the customer service you received.  Did that experience make you want to go back?

Be honest with yourself

If you haven’t thought about it lately, think about it right now and ask yourself, “Does my company or business deliver good customer service?” Is it consistent from one day to the next?  Is it consistent from one person to the next?  These are all important and very telling questions.

Real examples of good and bad customer service

Do any of these feel familiar?

The other day I went to a Wendy’s drive-through, the same Wendy’s that once yelled at me for not ordering fast enough.  Well, after three months, I decided to go back. The person who took my order this time sounded very positive and welcomed me to Wendy’s. I ordered and drove up to pay, at the first window of course. I decided to modify my order and received a fast response at the window, “I can change your order with the push of one button … done”—all with a smile and well wishes to come back soon.  I’ll be going back there soon, and I hope to have the same person taking my order.  And I hope the next person will deliver the same customer service.

On the same day I took my son out for a quick dinner.  We stopped by a restaurant that was relatively new in town and we’d been there several times.  We walked in, followed the sign and seated ourselves.  Our server finally came to our table after about 10 minutes, dropped down a few menus and said she’d be right back to take our order.

She seemed rushed, which gave my son and I both an uneasy feeling. Another 10 minutes went by and I flagged down the closest employee and asked if it would be OK if we could place our order. After another five minutes, our server came back and seemed upset that someone had to come get her. She let us have it with tone in her voice and an uncaring attitude.  At the end or our meal, the check slip came and she slapped it on the table with her pen in a puddle from a water glass.  Now, there’s a question in my mind of whether I will I go back there anytime soon. The answer: probably not, all due to poor customer service.

Look, listen and take action

This is a simple method to make a big difference at your company.  Awareness of the level of customer service by your company is step one—so look and listen to understand how your employees are treating your customers.

Then take action, lead by example if possible, and encourage the highest levels of customer service among your employees.  Recognize those employees that consistently deliver excellent customer service.

Give ‘em the Pickle!

Not too long ago I was introduced to a simple, very valuable program that we implemented to increase the awareness of delivering excellent customer service.  

The idea stems from an unhappy customer writing a letter to the owner of a restaurant about not receiving an extra pickle with his meal one day. Going the extra mile or putting a personal touch on customer service is what can set you apart from the competition. This concept is certainly worth a read.  If you’re unfamiliar with Give ‘em the Pickle!, click on this link to learn about the Pickle Principle.

Bottom line

Today’s economy demands the highest levels of customer service.  All too often, I have been disappointed and I scratch my head thinking, if others are not concerned about delivering excellent customer service, then perhaps this represents an opportunity to differentiate our company over all others—by delivering excellent customer service, consistently, from one employee to the next.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to differentiate your business in the marketplace.