What Makes Great Customer Service?
Caring and Attentive Sales People Make Shopping Enjoyable
Customer Service Occurs in Various Sectors
In all areas of life, including business, great customer service is crucial to success. In business, customer service is arguably the second most important point, second only to the quality of the product itself. The value of strong customer service cannot be overemphasized, in that it increases our quality of life. Human beings do not live on isolated, personal islands. Our lives are intertwined, and in most parts of the world, people interact continuously every day, depending on each other and helping each other. When that service and help are given with grace, sincere caring, and expertise in the field represented, the quality of life increases for all concerned.
Unfortunately, however, the lack of exceptional customer service in most venues in today’s world is overwhelming, which makes social and business matters irritating and frustrating. In all areas of business, from medical offices to schools to mall shops to restaurants, all too often these days, the customer service associate who answers the phone, rings one up at the register, or staffs the front counter is self-absorbed, missing in action, uninformed about the basic information for which he/she should be responsible, or even blatantly rude.
Retail Customer Service Makes or Breaks the Shopping Experience
Several decades ago when one shopped at department stores, one was immediately greeted by polite associates eager to help, who remained visible and accessible throughout one’s stay. The associates were knowledgeable, and if they did not know an answer, they immediately found a manager who could help. In contrast, if one shops at a mall store or other chain today, it can be almost impossible to find an employee to answer a question, help one find a product, or ring one up at the register. When an associate is found, it is a gamble: will he/she be courteous or shockingly disrespectful?
Having worked in retail and customer service for decades, I sympathize with customer service workers’ sore feet and joints, boredom, growling stomachs/low blood sugar, lack of information and training, and resentment over low wages, no benefits, and no job security. That said, representing one’s self and one’s employer with the best effort possible shows character. Additionally, reaching out to fellow human beings with sincere goodwill and good manners should be learned in pre-school. By the time a person can work for a living, he/she should understand communication skills and good manners and employ them always, as a matter of course.
The Responsibility Begins with Management and Extends to Each Worker
However, there is a gap between what should be and reality. It is hard to learn manners, consideration for others, responsibility, and communication on the spot when one is hired at a job. In addition, unfortunately, often managers do not themselves possess exceptional personalities, senses of responsibility, and communication skills, and thus cannot teach or enforce those qualities in their workers.
Business owners and managers, as well as supervisors in all other types of enterprise (such as schools, hospitals) should make it their priorities to research, personally train in, and teach their workers the highest standards of customer service. Owners and managers should make sure employees engage customers with utmost respect and dedication, making that central to continued employment. If workers do not already have good customer service skills, training could be offered.
When business owners and managers acknowledge the incredible lack of excellent customer service in today’s society, they are likely to understand that changing that situation will jump start their businesses and support ongoing success. Commitment to the business or product; clear and correct communication; and knowledgeable, polite, and dedicated service will make any business one that customers trust and to which they return.