Doing Customer Service Well with a Touch of Fun
I love coffee. Caffeinated, decaf, half-caf, or even semi-half-quarter-caf. And when I travel, I like nothing better than to find a cool, little, independent coffee store to enjoy my bean worshipping and to do some work.
I remember my first visit to a Starbucks as many of my fellow Christians might remember their first trip to the Holy Land. OK, I’m exaggerating just a tad. There were several young, hip, tattoo’d baristas behind the counter (at the Starbucks, not the Holy Land). When I ordered my drink one of them said, “I love that drink.”
And when I asked about the coffee, they told me where the beans were picked and the exact roasting process used to give them that distinctive, bold, Starbucks flavor. The baristas seemed genuinely committed to this new coffee shop scene.
One time, a barista accidentally served someone ahead of me. Realizing his mistake, he immediately apologized and handed me a coupon for a free coffee. I love coffee, but I love free coffee even more.
Today, when I go into a Starbucks, I just pray that I don’t get someone grumpy. The atmosphere is forgettable, most of the baristas don’t love my particular drink, and if they serve someone ahead of me, they hardly notice. There are no free coupons and no free information about the origin of the beans.
Recently, at a local Starbucks, I asked for another lid because mine was cracked. The barista, who was standing about three feet from the lids, said, “That’s her job to hand out the lids.”
What happened to Starbucks?
Did they grow too quick? Do they hire the wrong people? Are they not training people appropriately? Did the corporate leaders forget about the customer?
I think it’s all of that and more. And yet, it’s also less than that.
I don’t consider myself a world-renowned expert in customer service. But I am an expert in being a customer. And in my humble opinion, it only takes a few things to Do Customer Service Well and Make it Fun. Here they are.
Know your stuff. If you work in a coffee store, know your coffee. If you work in a hardware store, know your hardware. And for goodness sakes, if you work in tech support, know your, well, technicalities. This may require a little extra homework on your part but that’s what it means to do your job well.
Understand me, the customer. The best way to serve others is to understand what they need. Ask me questions. Clarify my problem. Show me that you understand, and that you empathize with me. I’m much less likely to write a strongly-worded letter to your supervisor and USA Today if I feel that you truly understand me.
Explain things to me. When I need a 40-watt incandescent light bulb and you no longer sell them, don’t just say, “We don’t sell them anymore.” Instead, explain that your company is trying to support energy conservation and that you made the difficult decision to carry only energy-efficient bulbs. That enlightens me (sorry) and helps me understand your policies.
Show me a good time. If you make my customer service experience just a little more fun, it’s like whipped cream on my latte. It adds a nice touch, it’s memorable, and I’ll like you. If you are my waitress and you greet me with a smile by saying, “How’s handsome tonight?”, I can guarantee that my experience and your tip will be much better.
Good customer service is not rocket science. But it does take a little effort and an interest in creating a good experience for your customers.
By the way, there is a new coffee store near our church called Cafe Amouri. They know their coffee. They love to serve the customer. And the baristas are very hip and cool. One day, I caught them arguing about the whether the design on the latte foam should curl off to the right or to the left. Ultimately, they consulted their very worn barista guidebook.
Now, that’s just awesome.
The customer is not always right but the customer is always the customer. - Unknown
A humorist is a person who may feel bad, but still feels good about it. - Lola Gillebaard
Shameless Self Promotion
Leesburg, VA - Keynote for the New Teacher Orientation, Loudoun County Public Schools
Lynchburg, VA - Keynote for Lynchburg City Schools’ Convocation
Pulaski, VA - Keynote for Pulaski County Schools’ Convocation
Annandale, VA - Keynote for Fairfax County Public Schools, Annandale Pyramid
Wisconsin Dells, WI - Keynote for Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin
Here are a few recommended customer service books:
Just Plain Funny
A very funny joke, courtesy of my friend Ed Helvey:
One day my housework-challenged husband decided to wash his sweatshirt. Seconds after he stepped into the laundry room, he shouted to me, “What setting do I use on the washing machine?”
“It depends,” I replied. “What does it say on your shirt?”
He yelled back, “OHIO STATE!”
(Please understand that this is the way I heard the joke. Feel free to insert your University of choice!)
Done Well or Fun...in Real Life
The following was contributed by one of our newsletter subscribers:
Our medical office uses a voice dictation software when doing patients’ notes. Usually it’s pretty reliable. However, our front desk staff (who correct the notes) enjoy sharing the uncorrected notes that didn’t come out quite as the staff member intended in their recording. Recently a note from our owner (straight laced, conservative, church goer) included the F-word. Not sure what he was trying to say about the patient, but certainly not that! And yes, we edited the note before sending off to the insurance company.