I was having “one of those days” when my wife called and asked me to pick up a few items at the grocery store on my way home from a meeting. I was less than enthusiastic at the thought of making the stop. One more thing added to my already lengthy list of things to do.
The last item required a stop at the store’s deli department. I cringed when I saw the entire staff huddled around a meat slicer engaged in some sort of training. My first thought was, “this is going to take a while.” To my surprise and delight, the young lady giving the instruction noticed me (a customer) approach the station. She immediately stopped what she was doing and asked how she may be of service.
She was friendly, courteous and knowledgeable about the products behind the counter. She made eye contact, smiled and struck up a little small talk while she went to work on my order. The customer service she delivered was noticeably better than what I was expecting, so I asked, “Are you a regional manager?”
“No,” she replied. “I’m a Boar’s Head rep.” She didn’t even work for the grocery store, yet she was providing me with superior customer service. And then I realized she was filling my order of a competitor brand. I said, “On second thought… I’ll take a pound of Boar’s Head Black Forest Ham, please.”
“Are you sure?” She replied.
While all of this was going on, the eight deli-department employees were just standing around waiting for her to continue her training. It was as if my business were an inconvenience to them, which is the service I have come to expect out of most retail operations.
I was grateful to have that friendly Boar’s Head rep fill my order. That experience changed my day for the better. When I arrived home, I told my wife about the wonderful service I had just received, but then I thought, “I should expect friendly, courteous and knowledgeable customer service. Why was this experience so different from my normal experiences at the same deli?”
That Boar’s Head rep didn’t do anything extraordinary. The secret to delivering superior customer experience is to treat each customer as if he or she is the most important person in the room at that moment… because they are. It’s that simple.
Give the customer your undivided attention… because no one gives his or her undivided attention anymore. Interact with them on a human level… because they are, in fact, human. Be friendly… because there is already enough animosity in the world (oh, and the customer is paying your salary, so show a little gratitude).
I shouldn’t have to explain this, but obviously I do. Very few companies provide an outstanding customer experience and yet it is so important. When we receive great service, we really notice it. It's an outlier.
Bonus tip: If you want your customer facing employees to deliver superior customer experience, lead by example. Demonstrate the qualities you require of them on them. Treat each individual employee as if he or she is the most important person in the room when you interact with them. Give them your undivided attention. It is up to you to set the standard by which you hold them accountable.
Admittedly, I don’t know anything about that Boar’s Head rep, her boss, or her boss’s boss. I’m not sure if she was adequately trained, fairly compensated, or treated well. She may have been an exemplary employee and true outlier at the company. Either way, she reminded me just how easy it is to make someone’s day.
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