Mark’s Blog

Customer Service isn’t always the most important thing

Have you ever noticed how some people want us to believe ‘customer service’ is what it’s all about? Well, here’s the thing; it’s not.

When we visit a café – a hardware store, a council, a hotel or whatever – there are plenty of things other than what is traditionally called customer service, which influence how good or bad our experience was. And in turn what we tell others about it and, if we have a choice, whether we’ll go back or not.

Okay, so what are these ‘things’? Well, as i said there are heaps so for convenience, I’ve put them under six main headings. And the following is a brief overview of each of them.

The 6 essential ingredients

1. People

Obviously, there are the people with whom we interact. But there are also others – those we can see and those behind the scenes. Our experience is affected by: what they say; what they do; what they look like; the effort they make; the quality of their work; how friendly they are; how quick they are and how attentive they are.

2. Environment

Both the physical environment and the social environment are important. They include things like: temperature; wind; what the place looks like and its layout; furniture and equipment; music and noise; interactions with staff and other customers; safety; and ease of access and getting around.

3. Policies

To run smoothly and give us a great customer experience, places need the right policies, procedures and rules. They need to be useful and relevant, improve efficiency and effectiveness, clearly written, known and understood, and easily followed.

4. Products and services

The products and services need to be of the right quality, at the right price and easy to obtain. We need to be able to understand what the product or service is, what’s included and what we get for our money. And when we get the product or service, we need to get what we ordered.

5. Accessories

Accessories are things which aren’t directly connected to the product or service. They’re extra things like: reward programs; free internet; parking; call-back systems for when we phone but our call can’t be answered; clean toilets; a nice view; a children’s play area; and a free newspaper. We usually know we’ll get them in advance and in many cases are promoted as a drawcard.

6. Bonuses

Bonuses are like Accessories but they usually completely unexpected. Bonuses are things like the bit of extra warm milk I got delivered to my table by a staff member who said: “Excuse me sir. The barista thought you might like some extra milk. If you don’t need it, just leave it.” And the young man from the cafe who came running out in the rain with an umbrella to help me into a cab.

Helping staff deal with difficult customers

Well that’s my take on the sorts of things that affect our customer experience. But as you probably know, I don’t work in the areas of ‘customer experience’ and ‘customer service’ per se. Rather, I specialise in helping staff of businesses and organisations deal with customers who are poorly behaved and difficult while at the same time, deliver brilliant customer service. So, if you’d like to know more, please reach out by going to the contact page of my website.

Okay, that’s it. All the best to you, your family and your friends.

Mark McPherson.

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