Has the Art of Customer Service been Lost?

As a young person I worked at worked at some McDonald’s Restaurants while going through University and received some good lessons about good customer service. I have carried these skills on into business and also into the workplaces that I have worked. However in recent times I have come to realise that good Customer Service is not the norm, but the exception.

I am not sure whether the world has fundamentally changed towards a more short term view of which Customer Service is no longer viewed as key. Or whether it is the staff shortages that has led some organisations to short cut training or hire the wrong people for Customer Service Roles (including sales roles).

For some people customers may be called by different names. Doctor’s call their customers patients; other professions may call them clients. For some people that work in corporate support roles and do not deal with external customers, their customers are internal stakeholders. It does not matter what you call them or whether your customers are external or internal, good customer service is vital in the long run for any organisation.

Though there are a number of techniques that improve Customer Service, the number one thing that will impact on Customer Service is attitude. If you have an attitude of service and helpfulness with a solution focus then most of the job is done. With the right attitude we will tend to treat people right which is what good Customer Service is all about.

So how do you know when you have achieved good customer service? Well, there are a number of signs. The best sign is that the customers keep coming back and tell their friends about you. Are you in a competitive environment, but your customers are loyalty to you? Do your customers tell their friends? Are you mentioned in a positive light on social media platforms by your customers? If you answer “Yes” to these questions then you may be on the right track.

So what are some of the techniques that you can use to improve your customer service? Well assuming that you have the right attitude then listed below are some techniques that will help. Mind you if you do not have the right attitude, these techniques will not work for you and you risk appearing insincere.

Smile. One of the most effective tools for customer service is your smile. A smile is friendly and welcoming. Your smile will bring comfort to your customers.

Eye Contact. Maintaining eye contact with your client indicates that you are being truthful and you are confident. If you look to the ground while talking with someone, you will come across as if you are being untruthful. So maintain eye contact with your customer.

Acknowledge the Customer. When your customer walks into your premises or you walk into theirs Make eye contact and acknowledge them. The acknowledgment will depend on the situation. Even if you’re busy with someone else, at least make eye contact and acknowledge them.

Customer’s Perspective. We each see things from a different point of view. Your customers are no different. Their perceptions, aspirations and point of view will differ. Ensure that you view the situation from their point of view.

Solve Customer Problems. Be helpful and solve the customer problem as your first priority. Do not think about your sale; do not try to sell the customer. Focus on solving the customer’s problem.

Timeliness. Ensure that you deal with the customer’s interactions in a timely manner. Customer’s like to feel important and being important means that you deal with their interactions quickly. If there is going to be a delay, then advice the customer of this.

After Sales Service. Ensure that your interaction with your customer goes beyond the sale. No one likes to feel like they have been sold and the quickest way to make a customer feel sold is to ignore them after the cash has changed hands. To keep the customer coming back, ensure that you maintain the relationship with the customer beyond the sale.

Keeping Promises. To really get your customers talking about you in a positive light you need to keep your promises and meet your customer’s expectations. This means ensuring that you only promise what you can deliver and deliver more than you promise.

It is my belief that through having a customer focused attitude we can deliver a service that will ensure that customers keep coming back. Though it may seem that the Art of Customer Service has been lost, we can bring back the Art of good Customer Service through following some of the hints listed above.

©Attila & Kim Ovari 2012. The content of this Article may be reproduced with permission of the author. Created 18 Jul 12.

  1. Nice concise list – and further to “keeping Promise” – if you deliver more than you promise you EXCEED the customer expectations and give them a reason to talk about and refer you!

  2. Good article. I sometimes wonder if customer service will ever return because it is lacking in many industries. I went into a pet store the other day because it is closer than the store I normally go to. The cashier started ringing up my items without speaking to me, so I spoke to him. He responded with, “oh, hello there.” No smile, a brief glance, and he left my items on the conveyer belt.

  3. This is a great article. You are very right in saying that Customer service is so vastly different wherever you go. THe other day I bought some tea from a specialty shop with my daughter. We also bought a present for a friend at the same time. The sales girl was attentive, knowledgeable, friendly, not bothered by our diminished product knowledge, and vivacious. I said to my daught who is in her late teens…that is the type os sales person you want to be. In this instance I would take the time and write a letter, or search out her manager and let them know how amazing she was. I challenge everyone to do the same and give cudos to those taking it seriously with their customer service excellence. Thanks!

  4. livingvoraciously

    Great article given the frustrating trend of bad customer service that seems to have become the norm. It surprises me when people hire wrong and just end up mucking their business reputation in the process.

  5. Your article made me think of a place that I often do not get good customer service. I visit several doctors through out the year. It usually is not a pleasant visit but the attitude in the office can do a lot to ease both the mental and physical pain. I believe the doctor himself/herself sets the tone for the service. And a manager or owner of a business does too.

    We have to go to doctors and most of the time you have no choice. In a small town you have to go to whomever has openings. I would just like a little smile from the receptionist. I would like the nurse to call me by name without looking at the chart. I want to feel that I am not in the way as I stand to make a new appt and need to check a calendar.

    I could gripe some more….but won’t. 🙁 Then some places I go I get lots of patience and TLC. 🙂

    Most of your ideas for customer service are relevant for every aspect of life.

  6. I think in some respects, the art of customer service is getting lost. I am 31 now and work as the director of membership for a non-profit medical association. I talk to our members all day long and I see them 2-4 times a year in person at conferences, so customer service is still important in my industry. I have also worked in retail and fine dining in my life and I do think that people are getting ruder and ruder. I think it has something to do with the fact that we are glued to our computers/phones/ipads/ipods/game systems all the time. I shudder to think what today’s children and teenagers will be like when they join the working world.

    Don’t get me wrong, I truly believe that there is a time and place for assertiveness and standing your ground. For example, I will not let someone walk all over me and treat me like dirt in a any situation. However, I would never be outright rude to them, I will only defend myself as professionally and tactfully as possible. I think that art is disappearing as well.

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