I walked up to the cashier, who was talking with her co-worker working the other checkout line at a retail store.

“How are you?” I greeted her.  She ignored me and continued talking to the other cashier, while running my items through the scanner.  So she knew I was there, but she never stopped talking long enough for even a quick acknowledgment. I was actually fascinated by the rudeness, and I wondered how deliberate the behavior was.  As an experiment, I stepped into her line of sight while they continued the conversation about their respective weekends.   My cash register person then altered her stance so she could still talk to and look at the other women instead of me. Throughout the entire transaction, this front-line customer service person never even recognized that I was there, nor stopped talking to her co-worker, even as she handed me my bagged merchandise.


By sharp contrast, at the Royal Plaza Hotel in Singapore last week, the bellman greeted me by name and said, “Welcome back to your second home.” The reception agent smiled and said, “We are so pleased to have you back!  Can I walk you to the elevators?”

I was in my room in less than 5 minutes. What great customer service!

It doesn’t matter whether you work at a retail store, a major corporation, a hospital, or a fast food drive-in.  Across all sectors, people want a good quality product and they want their interactions with personnel to be pleasant. When people provide better than average service, they are memorable.

So why doesn’t great customer service   happen more often?

As a leader, why is even decent customer service so difficult to implement?

How do leaders instill a sense of attention to the customer?

Customer service sounds so easy – treat people kindly, with respect, and be attentive to their needs, and yet is hard for many people to do.

How can leaders encourage their employees to deliver great customer service?

What can managers do to develop the mindset to take care of others?

Leaders can:

1.     Be as gracious as they want their employees to be.  Lead by example.

2.     Display exceptional courtesy.  Common courtesy is not as common as it should be. So provide exceptional service and attention that go beyond the basics of common courtesy.

3.     Clearly communicate the need to take care of customers.

4.     Train employees to think like the customers they serve.  Give them scenarios where they are the customer.  Show how to cherish customers.

5.     Instill the sense that customers need and deserve to be valued.

6.     Know the processes that your customers go through to purchase your goods and services. Visit your own store to purchase items.  Drive through your own drive-through.  Make your own online purchases.  Identify and eliminate obstacles and difficulties.

7.     Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.  Call your own customer service help line.

8.     Under-promise and over-deliver. You know this one but it holds true.  Try to do a little extra to make customers not just satisfied but delighted.

There is more competition than ever in the marketplace.  Make sure that your teams are valuing your customers, or someone else’s teams will.

For more information on Mary Kelly, visit http://www.speakernow.com/espeakers/13811/Mary-Kelly.html?topic=-1

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