World-Class Service: Common Courtesy

Courtesy "I don’t have TIME to give good service!"

I hear this consistently in training and coaching. The myth goes like this: In order to give really outstanding service, you have to spend a lot more time with each customer.

BALDERDASH! (Does anyone still use this word?)

A professor of mine used to hammer into my young, impressionable head that "the difference between good and great is in the details". He was a wise man, and he was correct. The difference between average service and World-Class service is usually several small details done consistently and done well. Details, I might add, that add little or no time to the call:

  • "May I..?" Customers like to feel that they have a say or that they have a sense of control. Asking the customer rather than telling the customer can be a subtle but powerful weapon that will lead to satisfied, pleasant customers.
  • "Please" It amazes me how many people have never learned to use this little word. It turns a robotic CSR barking out military style demands ("Account number?! What’s your address?! Order number?!") into a pleasant request ("Your account number, please?")
  • "Thank you" Thank you isn’t just for the close of the call. You can say thank you for the customer having her customer/order number ready. You can say thank you for bringing a problem to light. You can say thank you for the customer’s compliment.
  • "You’re welcome" When the customer thanks you, respond with actual words. Grunting out an "uh-huh", a "yep" or "sure" sounds unprofessional and unenthusiastic.

When it comes to dishing out customer service, courtesy is a sweetner. Sprinkle a little on each part of the call and the experience will be more palatable for your customer (and ultimately more satisfying for you!).

Related Posts:
The Power of a Name
Apologies (Part 1) – The Issue
Lower Prices Isn’t Always What Customer’s Want

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Flickr photo courtesy of MBK

  4 comments for “World-Class Service: Common Courtesy

  1. June 14, 2006 at 8:45 pm

    Here is a phrase that I used during my call center days, when there are steps that should be taken by the customer after the call. Instead of “You have to do such-and-such”, I would say “What you will want to do is…”.
    Ahhhhh….no resistance!

  2. June 14, 2006 at 9:42 pm

    Excellent, Cathi! Isn’t it amazing how a slight change of words can bring about a completely different response? Great suggestion. Thanks for the comment!

  3. June 16, 2006 at 4:27 pm

    I do love it when a CSR asks, “May I… ?” Well, maybe not LOVE, since what they are asking usually involves my crawling under the desk to unplug six different cables in reverse order while holding down three buttons and singing a song while standing on my head, but it’s nice to have that little bit of control of saying, “Yes.”

  4. June 17, 2006 at 9:51 am

    OMG! They made you do that “singing while standing on your head” thing TOO!? Oh sure, it fixed the hard drive, but I didn’t know an LCD monitor could crack like that! 🙂
    Thanks for a well-needed chuckle this morning, Heidi!

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