Read the expression below and pause for a second after reading:
(this is when you pause)
Did you have a good feeling or bad feeling after reading?
Customer service is one of those things that can make you hate a company or a service, or absolutely love it. Sure, there are other things such as price and workmanship of a product, we know that. But customer service is often the make or brake factor for companies and individuals, but it is often overlooked or forgotten in the “busyness” of day-to-day activities and projects.
There are many factors that can improve a company culture around excellence in customer service, such as employee happiness and engagement – but today I don’t want to focus on that. I want to tell you my story about when I experienced the effects of excellent customer service on people. Maybe if we share more stories like this one, we will get to think more about it and help one another 🙂
Lately I have been discussing with colleagues the idea of a “Back to basics” project to reignite the discussion on what excellent customer service means, and what it can do to a company’s culture, and ultimately improve the success of a company. I have always been involved with teaching, training and supporting people to go from “not knowing” to “knowing”, and the many facets of this amazing dynamic. There is true joy in helping someone with a problem, teaching them something new or maybe a different, more efficient approach to something they already do, and experiencing the change that it brings to these individuals. In other words, taking something difficult and making it easy for someone.
My passion for great customer service, training and support goes all the way back to high school when I used to help my peers understand curriculum – always trying to figure out how best they could learn and adapting the way I explained to the way they could read me. Fast forward a few years and my first customer service position, having just recently moved to Canada, was servicing customers across the country – I was terrified because I didn’t know all that well about Canadian culture, geography, and other things that for me were important when talking to customers, even if it was just taking an order over the phone.
I worked really hard to learn how to pronounce all sorts of city names and learn about the Canadian medical system and cultural intricacies in different regions of the country so I could best service these customers and support them in what they needed. I often felt a great connection with the customer, and they would often tell me the same. They would call back and ask me about how my day was. Or ask me about my family. When something went wrong, if it was a person I had dedicated time and attention to in the past, the problem was much easier to work through, and more often than not did not strain the relationship with the customer.
Over the years things have changed and I don’t work as a customer service representative anymore, but I’m still playing the role of servicing and supporting others no matter where I am and what project I am involved with – whether it be sales, internal office staff, or senior leadership, all with their different needs and dynamics, from learning the ERP system to adopting a new online team work platform instead of using email.