I read an article the other day that said the importance of customer service was highly over-rated; that nobody is going to go out of their way to get milk from a store with great customer service when there is a store right close by. After I got over my initial “that’s ludicrous” response, got back to neutral and re-read the article, there was some merit to it. Some customer service gurus focus on creating the “wows”, when what is needed is a focus on the basics.
My husband and I are card-carrying members of Red River Co-op. The first time I needed gas after purchasing our membership, I drove to the nearest co-op gas station and just about kept going. There was a long line up and I was running late. But seeing as I wasn’t sure just how much further I’d get on my woefully low tank of gas, I got in line. When it was finally my turn, I got out of the car and was greeted by someone who made my morning better. I didn’t hear the usual “how much?” in a completely disinterested tone of voice, but instead was greeted with a genuinely friendly good morning and offer of assistance. WOW! I then went into the spotless store to join the queue to pay and as I have told so many others, that was the shortest long line I’ve ever been in. The two cashiers greeted each and every person with a smile and engaged them in brief conversation. The smiles and laughter I experienced during my first visit created an environment so pleasant that I continue to drive right past the gas stations with absolutely no line ups to the Red River Co-op. I may have to wait in line, but the friendly atmosphere makes it worth it.
I conduct customer service training sessions and I share that story at every session. Not only does Red River Co-op have a loyal customer, they have an advocate. You’ll notice that in my story, I was “wowed”. Every interaction I had with an employee was positive and the store was clean. Just the basics, but done so well that they became a “wow”.
When looking to create customer service “wows” in your company, don’t over-think it or over-spend. Find out what your customers want from you and then provide it, consistently. And do it with a smile and genuine interest and concern, so that your customers feel like you really care about them. If you can do that, you will have customers that choose to do business with you even if they have to wait in line or drive a little out of their way.