Serving others whether in business, health care, food service or everyday life is very noble, important, and difficult work. Although it’s easy to lay claim to great customer service, the truth is it takes a lot of skill to properly care for, communicate with, and serve a variety of personalities. And the blunt truth is…
Lots of people suck at it!
Simply put, they don’t belong working in a service capacity.
It needs to be said. So, if you’re working in what you consider “a lowly customer service position”, please do everyone including yourself a favor and do something else. If serving is inconvenient for you, and you really can’t stand people then please get out.
You can’t BS good customer service! It’s always pretty obvious when someone could care less about helping others.
For those that DO feel called to serve, you can continue to get better and better so long as you have the desire and interest. There is always more to learn about serving. In that spirit, I thought I’d share some of the best customer service tips I’ve encountered from 3 experts I admire.
1. Robert Greenleaf
In the 1970s, Robert Greenleaf popularized the idea of Servant Leadership. Here is a quote from his website that explains the concept.
”A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the “top of the pyramid,” servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.”
Adopting these ideals helped me create a shop culture where we are all united by a common purpose or CAUSE. We hire people with a talent for connecting and serving so they take care of each other as well as our customers.
Showing genuine care is really the key. A 2017 study revealed that 79% of consumers want to do business with brands that care about them. So, the bottom line is that you must care and want to serve others in order to provide the best customer service. This cannot be fabricated.
2. Simon Sinek
Simon Sinek is a powerhouse British American author and speaker. Check out his popular Ted Talk: “How great leaders inspire action”.
Sinek’s expertise in leadership is relevant to customer service because he shares some very good perspectives that are often easy for business owners to miss. One great point he makes — and one of my favorites — is that by putting employees first, a company can deliver excellent customer service.
Because if you hire thoughtfully and take care of your employees, they will, in turn, take care of your customers. This will free you up tremendously as a business owner!
Sinek also says that leadership is a choice anyone can make regardless of position or rank. By empowering employees to step up and serve, you help build trust and confidence.
Here’s the takeaway ~
- Put effort into crafting an effective hiring process.
- Take time to listen to, train & nurture employees.
- Empower them to serve.
3. Trader Joe’s
Maybe you’re thinking “Hey, Trader Joe’s is not a person so that doesn’t count”, but they are most definitely experts in customer service! Everything is geared to make the customer experience enjoyable including the wide aisles, the fun & decorative signage, the sampling station, and the way the employees interact with guests.
I’ve been a fan for years, but my most recent visit was among the most meaningful. My cashier had asked how I was doing, and I told him I was so glad to be there; that it was the most fun I’d had all day.
TJ’s – “Oh yeah, why is that? Just didn’t get a chance to get out in the sun today?”
Me – “I was at the hospital all day with a family member. Actually it’s been a couple of really tough weeks.”
We continued sharing our stories about caring for loved ones – which was nice enough just to chat with a kind soul – but then another employee came up and handed me a bouquet of flowers! I hardly even noticed my cashier ring his bell very early on in our conversation. His small gesture made my entire week 🙂
This definitely was a lovely example of “How to spread love in business by serving”.
Customer service wrap-up
As we wrap up, I’d like to offer my best customer service tip after nearly a decade in retail, inspired by John Mayer’s song “Say”. I love quoting Mayer because he’s a brilliant songwriter, and in this hit song from the movie “The Bucket List”, he says “Even as the eyes are closing, do it with a heart wide open”. This is beautiful wisdom that can be applied in many ways.
When thinking about business and customer service, my best tip is to serve with a heart wide open. Learning how you can best serve with a heart wide open requires that you do the deep work needed to better understand and apply your interests and talents. CliftonStrengths and the Strengths Finder 2.0 book helped me solidify that I serve best by connecting and educating. I recommend it to all my students because it’s a great tool.
If you have any super customer service tips, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!