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Good Customer Service Guide

Updated on January 11, 2013

Customer Service Quick Poll

Have you ever experienced bad customer service?

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Recognizing bad customer service

We've all experienced it. I know I have....bad customer service. These are the occasions when you've been to the checkout counter at the department store and the clerk barely looked at you, didn't talk to you and hurried you on your way. When this happens to me I feel like 1)never coming back to that store again, and 2)my feelings are actually hurt by the encounter.

Because of the bad times, I'll bet you know in a second when you're receiving sterling service. These are the times when you feel like a VIP just because you bought something. But do you know why you felt so good? Good customer service delivery involves more than the clerk just being polite and acknowledging your existence.

About the Author

My name is Linda C Smith and I've been a fine artist for over forty years. I studied fine and applied arts and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Oregon. I've also taught art - specializing in teaching beginning acrylic painting, color mixing and creativity. My work is in private collections and represented by Xanadu Gallery [Scottsdale, AZ] online gallery and I actively show and exhibit my work locally and online. One aspect of doing an outdoor fine art event is being able to talk directly with people about Art.

Good Customer Service is important to me

It has become important to me to learn how to treat customers because when I started doing outdoor shows and festivals as a fine artist I needed to sell directly to the public. I know how I feel when I don't get good service so I wanted to make sure my customers felt respected.

In fact, I believe that respect is probably the single most important element. Regardless of what business you are in, if you deal with public who purchase your products or services, if you begin with the mindset of respect then you are on your way to at least a pleasant transaction. In this usage, respect has the meaning of having regard for the feelings of the person in front of you. It's that old do unto others thing: the very least you can do for your customer is to have a regard about...the transaction that is about to take place [hopefully!] As the seller remember that this person would not be there if there wasn't something about you, your product or service, that interests them; so it behooves you to at least be interested in them.

Customer Service Quick Quiz

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Key elements of Effective Customer Service

Here is what you should give, and what your customer ought to expect, in good customer service:

  • personal attention and respect
  • information
  • quality

Three elements that if done, help to make the encounter for you the seller or provider of service successful.

Personal Attention: here's where respect comes in. When you have a customer in front of you, your world needs to narrow until it's just you and that person. At that moment this person has your attention. Smile. Probably the very best and important opener you can do. Smiling not only opens our face, in most instances it gets a smile in return. Smiling instantly brings light to the moment and indicates to the customer/client that you are 1)pleased to be doing business with them and 2)you welcome them to your business.

There are methods you can learn to deal with situations in which your attention is being vied for. One easy example is during the Christmas holiday shopping season. At a crowded jewelry counter, for instance, the clerk can have potential customers lined up six deep, all vying for attention. Even so, it is important - vital even - to give individual attention, customer by customer. If you are being harangued, politely tell the current customer to excuse you for just a moment, then turn to the crowd and say "Thank you for waiting, I'm looking forward to working with you." Then get right back to the current customer.

Information: you might not believe it, but not every customer or client who seeks to purchase either product or service from you actually knows everything they need to know. It should be one of your goals to give the customer as much information as they need to make an informed decision. I know that as a customer, I don't appreciate if I sense that a clerk is interested only in the cash in my hand. Rather I greatly appreciate when a clerk asks me questions like:

  • did you have any questions about this product/service that I can answer?
  • are you aware we carry "that" in other colors (sizes, kinds, etc)?
  • did you know that we have accessories that could complement your purchase?
  • would you like us to wrap that/help you to your car/provide a gift receipt?

To me giving my customers all the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision makes good business sense. From my point of view as the seller, it just may result in 1)additional purchases, and/or 2)repeat business.

Quality: this is a more esoteric element that means offering value. An easy example I can think of is used by my local grocery store...the clerks there look at the receipt before giving it to me to see my name and then thank me by name for my business. That's personal attention that, to me, is quality customer service.

Another example is when you follow through with promises or suggestions made during a transaction. There was a time I shopped at our local hardware store looking for a particular brand of glue I use in my mosaic work...they were out the day I went in to find it. The clerk told me she would phone me when it got restocked...and she did. This bit of courtesy was helpful to me and one of the reasons I go back to that store over and over again.

Smile and your customers will smile too

That's me (the author) with a big smile waiting to greet potential customers to my booth at an indoor fine art show.
That's me (the author) with a big smile waiting to greet potential customers to my booth at an indoor fine art show. | Source

Be the Customer

The best way to evaluate your own customer service delivery is to place yourself in the shoes of your customers or clients. If you purchased from you, how would you feel about the experience? Would you have received a smile? A Thank You? Would you have gotten enough information about the product or service that you felt you got value for the money you paid?

Customer Service might be a catchall phrase but it boils down to person-to-person interactions that can make or break our business in the long run.


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    • LindaCSmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda C Smith 

      5 years ago from United States

      Carolina, thank you for the kind words.

    • carolina muscle profile image

      carolina muscle 

      5 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      excellent hub, with some important ideas expressed here.

    • LindaCSmith profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda C Smith 

      5 years ago from United States

      Wow, thank you all for the kind and encouraging words. @btrbell I live in California but was aware of the Xanadu Gallery through their blog. I saw an invitation to artists last year to apply for their online studio gallery and went through the process and was thrilled to be accepted. @lovedoctor926 , like you I've resorted to speaking to a manager -being ignored equates to being marginalized, as if you don't count. @wtaylorjr2001, you are correct that our work can become routine, but it should never be an excuse to treat your customers poorly.

    • wtaylorjr2001 profile image

      William H Taylor 

      5 years ago from Binghamton NY

      This is a great hub. When one deals with the public for long periods of time one can become used to a certain state, become automatic. It is hard to remember that each person is a new opportunity, each person is an individual. It is so hard to stay conscious of these things that many people in customer service forget. This is why your hub is both awesome and interesting, it reminds us all that we are all human, deserving of respect in all situations, unless we do something to remove that respect. In the case of a business, that may mean removing a potential customer. Thank you for this great hub.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      A very good hub. You made very good points. I have gotten bad customer service many times before. What I find really rude is when you're at a store and there are various sales associates at the register doing nothing and they don't even acknowledge you. Whenever I get bad customer service, I ask to speak to a manager. If the manager is not around, I address a letter to the company. It has always worked out fine.

    • btrbell profile image

      Randi Benlulu 

      5 years ago from Mesa, AZ

      Good customer service is becoming a lost art. Thank you for this great hub. I deal with the public everyday and do understand the critical need for good customer service, yet I don't often receive it when I am the consumer. Up+. Are you in the Scottsdale area, Linda? I live in Mesa.


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