In 1900 the founders of the Michelin Tire Company in France published the first edition of the, now, widely respected Michelin Guide. It was a listing of service stations, hotels, and restaurants on the major routes to and from Paris And was meant to bolster enthusiasm for traveling creating more demand for a novelty of the time- the automobile, and thusly increasing demand for their tires. Within their guide, motorists could find blurbs about the establishments listed and could confidently patronize businesses that provided quality service to their customers. In an effort to sell more tires, the Michelin brothers unknowingly provided a spotlight on customer service and highlighted it’s importance. Today, customer service is at the cornerstone of every successful business many companies have entire departments focused on the subject writing volumes of policy and procedure to ensure their customers get the best experience every time they interact with the company. So, how can you provide quality customer service that rises above the mountain of well intentioned customer service standards? The answer is simple, just be yourself.
Living in the Information Age customer service is more important now more than ever. You can read blog posts, or check out review sites, or read guide books, or any other nugget of information that showed up in an internet search. With all the information of the world at the touch of a button, and literally anyone contributing content, we have come to expect certain things. When we call the dreaded customer service number, if the company has one, we want to speak to a person who can understand us and we want to hear the person‘s smile through the phone. I saw that in a company standard once, what does that even mean? If we go to a restaurant or check in to a hotel, we expect to be “taken care of”; we want the person taking care of us to be well groomed, outgoing, respectful, efficient, And a whole list of adjectives that have now become standards of customer service.
When Walt Disney opened his theme parks he had what were considered to be the most comprehensive customer service standards of the time. They even included stringent personal grooming standards that stated male employees were not to have facial hair because he believed it made employees visually off putting and unapproachable. Some places, even today, still employ those standards.
Again the question becomes, how can someone stand out in such a regimented world with so many regulations or standards? A popular movie from the late 1990’s had a scene that was satirizing the fast casual chain restaurant concept by showing the manager require the servers to wear 36 pieces of flair. I have worked jobs that provided employees with a script that was required to be recited upon answering the phone. These things were meant to add a layer of friendliness to the business model, but experiencing these types of things on the customer end, unless the person utilizing those tools can inject a part of themselves Into their actions, they become disingenuous and almost insulting at times.
Don‘t misunderstand me, there are fundamentals of good customer service that everyone should incorporate into their customer interactions. However, it has been my experience that exceptional customer service worth remembering came from people who understood their strengths and weaknesses and were able to use their own personalities to provide their customers with an experience they will never forget. #customerservice #greatexperience