In 2020, I will have the honor and privilege to commemorate 2 very important landmarks in my personal and professional life: 11 years of marriage but 15 years of unity with my wife and 27 years in the field of customer service.
Looking from the outside in, some would say and argue and somehow see a connection and correlation; how one is conducive to the growth and nurturing of the other in certain contexts and ways; one being an excellent training ground for the other and vice versa.
I’m no marriage counselor or expert, but based on my own experience, a healthy, thriving marriage requires above average communication and interpersonal skills-especially listening skills, tact and thoughtfulness; a profound level of patience and the ability to empathize. A constantly evolving and nourishing marriage and excellent customer service must derive from the same seed; a deep seated desire to respect the integrity of someone else’s needs and serve those needs as honestly and sincerely as possible.
Fantastic customer service goes straight to the heart; it’s about those moments that accumulate into an overall experience where you feel signaled out; not in the discriminatory sense and for the sake of blaming, shaming or incriminating.
No, this is the polar opposite. In circumstances like the one in question, it is and feels deeply intimate(on a platonic level) with the goal being to establish a level of closeness where the center of the world just shifted from its age old established position to the core of your personal existence and reality; and everything revolves around your needs. Period.
It’s when you instinctively feel like someone is rooting for you, got your back, going the extra mile just for you; a personal marathon in honor of whatever it is you need right now. It’s when you formulate an authentic trust for the person on the other end of the interaction because he/she is truly looking out for your best interests even if they are working “for the man” and in the grander scheme of things, the bottom line. The bottom line in this context is your happiness and the respect you so rightfully deserve; and this is something you not only sense intuitively; it’s feels tangible.
I have one business-service model: treat your customers like family.
Ironically, this prototype is the by-product of observation and hands on training; witnessing my father in action as he served his clients faithfully for over 30 years. He set the benchmark for me when it comes to my personal model and my way of being with customers and with people in general, I believe.
He could barely speak English or French, had the eloquence and soft skills of a hubcap and only smiled involuntarily when he had difficulty digesting certain foods. In appearance and countenance wise, he was the antithesis of all we have come to know about the fundamentals of person to person customer service.
However and amazingly enough and as much as he broke the mold into pieces, he was successful because he was trusted. That was the key ingredient. Whether that was because he was a seasoned entrepreneur and butcher who had the work ethic and skill to get the customer what they wanted is prevalent and in retrospect, only because his customers were more motivated, inspired and loyal to him for years because they felt wholly important and cared for; understood, appreciated, respected and honored. They felt like what was important to them was as important to my father; my dad did them right-individually.
Now ask yourself this question; when was the last time you walked out of a service experience inspired by humanity and the will of the human spirit to serve passionately and authentically; having received something you would offer your own mother?
The core of customer service is the human touch and it’s completely inclusive; there is no separation between customer and business, no barriers; like a family unit, customers should be privy to and attracted to an evident sense of togetherness and home like hospitality.
Customers need to feel that they are a valuable part of the bigger picture via an exemplary desire to serve from those on the other end of the table.
Keep that in mind the next time you’re scanning and bagging your own groceries.
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