The Surprising Payoff of Customer Service
Most of us appreciate the importance of customer service to the companies we work for. But there is a surprising payoff of customer service that we sometimes forget.
“It’s My Happy Place”
A thousand years ago I owned a small chain of toy stores. (Okay, it probably wasn’t a thousand years ago, but it sometimes feels that way!). There was a man who used to come into our flagship store with his two children twice a week. We could set our clocks by him. Thursdays at 5:30, and Saturdays at 10:15.
Needless to say, the staff got to know him and his children pretty well. They would talk with the kids, join them in the play area, and would occasionally surprise them with small treats. The father, who’s name was Robert, didn’t always buy something, but they were still great customers and a welcome part of the store’s routine.
It was early one December when Robert spotted me in the store, motioned me over and said, “I need to talk with you about something.” He looked pretty serious, so my immediate thought was that something was wrong. We found a quiet spot – hard to do in a toy store at Christmas – and began to talk.
“I love coming in this store,” he began. I waited for the “but..” but it never came.
“You have no idea how much it means to me,” he continued. He went on to describe the high level of stress that came with his job, and some of the challenges he was facing as he cared for two parents with health problems. “This store is like walking into another world for me. It’s my happy place. My kids can’t wait to get here. Your staff are always so cheerful, and treat them so wonderfully. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate everything you do.”
Customer Service Goes Beyond The Company-Customer Relationship
A few years ago, I had a similar conversation with one of our clients. We were having lunch at a small cafe and, out of the blue, she began raving about our team. “You need to know that I absolutely LOVE dealing with your team,” she said effusively. “They are always so… happy. Sometimes I actually plan my phone calls to them for times that I know I will need cheering up. It’s like going to therapy.”
What I’ve come to realize over the years is that there is a payoff of customer service that goes far beyond the company-customer relationship. When we deliver outstanding customer service, and do it consistently, we can actually make people’s lives a little better – if even in just a small way.