Leaving a lasting impression is one of the hardest things to accomplish when we are competing for the attention of every single person we touch. So how do we do it? How do we accomplish this in a world where each person is bombarded with information and is multi-tasking just to keep their heads above water?
The answer is simple. So simple and obvious in fact, it is staring at us right in the face. So how come we don’t see it? Did we miss something? What do you mean it’s right in front of my face?
Customer Service! That’s it. That’s all it is. But what is the definition of customer service? And how do you stand out?
I’ll share a personal story that is a true definition of customer service. I traveled to San Antonio a couple of weeks ago. I needed to get some reading done and I was hungry so I took my iPad to one of my favorite restaurants. The setup of the place is, you order at a counter and then you give the hostess your receipt and she/he will find a table for you. This is a seafood restaurant that’s been in business for as long as I can remember and the food is amazing!
Most of the times I had been there, the service was very good. They have always been friendly, accommodating and very attentive to the guests needs. While it is a very casual place to dine, they have always provided a GOOD experience.
But on this particular day, I walked up to the counter to place my order. The young woman behind the counter greeted me by looking at ME. Not just saying the words without glancing up from her register. She smiled, and took the TIME to ask how my day was. But more than the words she was speaking, she showed genuine interest. She had a kindness about her, as though making a connection with each one of her guests was important to her. After we spoke a minute, I placed my order. She asked the usual questions about sides and drinks. I pulled out my wallet to pay. I decided to pay cash (which I so rarely do), I pulled out my bills and handed them to her. She took them and then asked, do you have the change? This way I don’t have to give you more coins as part of your change. I looked into my wallet, and realized I probably did, but it would take me precious seconds of time, her time, waiting for me to count out the coins. So I just looked up at her and said, “it’s ok, don’t worry about it..” Her response, “Please, take your time. You are MY customer and I won’t rush you.”
Wait...What??? Did I hear that correctly? I was a little taken aback. I wasn’t really even sure how to respond. She was so genuine in her words, I had no choice but to count out the change and hand it to her. But what’s more important than that, is how she left me FEELING after what was just a mundane, everyday task; ordering lunch.
Let’s examine my response for a minute. Why was I taken aback and unable to respond? Because we have created a world where the level of expectations have fallen so low, that we almost EXPECT our communications and encounters with people to be short, to the point, get through the pleasantries as quickly as possible so we can get to whatever business we have to attend to.
This sweet, caring, genuine woman, at a favorite restaurant of mine, made me really forget what I was there to do. Read. She made me FEEL special and that I needn’t be rushed. She made me feel as though we had connected on some level and that my day and how I was MATTERED to her.
Did it? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I’m sorry I didn’t commend her actions to her manager and express what a lovely young woman he had working for him. I’m sorry I didn't get her name. I also know that in a routine, everyday situation, she stood out of the crowd. She made a LASTING impression, and two weeks later, I’m still enjoying that EXPERIENCE. A routine lunch where I wanted to get some reading done.
So what is Customer Service to you? Are you leaving that lasting impression and making your people, your encounters and your co-workers feel important and cared for? Something to think about. Don’t be GOOD, be EXCEPTIONAL.