Is Customer Service A Battle? Apparently

Restaurant workers competing

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An article in the WSJ profiled JetBlue Airlines employees - 10% of whom were previously firefighters or cops.

"Now, as a JetBlue flight attendant, Mr. Harris, 56, says he thinks of himself more as a "security chaperone'' than a flight attendant. He says he teaches younger flight attendants a firefighter's tactic—how to vary the tone and volume of their voice to get and keep someone's attention."

It's not just airlines hiring ex-military...

Home Depot was known for hiring ex-armed service guys and gals for years. A Bloomberg cover story was subtitled, "Skip the touchy-feely stuff. The big-box store is thriving under CEO Bob Nardelli's military style rule," it also cited 9/11 and the "battle" analogy.

This got me thinking: Is customer service a battle? If so, who are the enemies?

Are their experiences a good fit for customer service?

To me, customer service is making the customer feel at that moment of interaction; they are the most important person in the world.

Customer service is not what happens when something goes wrong - that's damage control.

Great customer service isn't:

  • Getting my money back on something I wore once to a party.
  • Being able to return something for cash without a receipt.
  • Getting free shipping.
  • Getting my way for a discount because I think I deserve it.
  • Giving me a gift with the purchase after I am rung up, and not telling me prior.
  • Asking if I have a coupon at the register. Especially when I don't.
  • Treating me like cattle, as an imposition or something to have to "deal with." That shows by your face, your tone, and your words - or lack thereof.

Great customer service is:

  • Welcoming me to your store
  • Connecting with me as a person first, then as a customer.
  • Offering me a brief store tour if it is my first time.
  • Knowing everything about a product and offering information when you see I'm considering it.
  • Being a chameleon and matching your approach to my personality.
  • Pointing out options prior to me reaching the counter.
  • Suggesting additional items that will save me time, put my project or outfit together or enhance my experience without me asking, thus saving me a trip back or a lower satisfaction level with my chosen product or service.
  • Thanking me for me patronizing your store. It could be a handwritten note, an email, or "Thank you for shopping with us today. Hope to see you again soon."

These are by no means all of what it takes to deliver service, but for me, helping people have a better experience prior to a return is what it's about.

This has nothing to do with the military. It concerns how businesses look at customers, their experiences, and creating exceptional experiences. We, the customers, aren't the enemy.

Learn how to make your customer service exceptional.