Monday, June 7, 2010

Hard Wired for Exceptional Customer Service

I have been traveling on business more than I usually do this year.  I have really been exposed to the best and the worst of customer service.  I find it fascinating how some companies ALWAYS get it right and some companies ALWAYS get it wrong.

I went to my client's preferred car rental company instead of where I am a "preferred member."  I was on the bus from the airport on my way to the offsite car rental facility.  The bus drive was happy, greeting everyone, almost whistling while he worked.  I thought, "That is refreshing."  The next week, I come back, he greets me, "Hi, Ms. Martin, how was your flight from Atlanta?"  Wow, he saw me one time.  I said, "How did you know that?"  He just smiled and said, "It's my job."  
 I wish more employees felt that knowing the customer, "was just their job."

Contrast the experience below to the one above:

I went to my gate to board my plane, the airport is jammed packed at 6AM.  The agents begin boarding and are calling rows and zones.  I pass by 2 gate agents, 3 flight attendants, 1 captain and no one even says good morning.  I know it is impossible for them to know my name, but is "good morning" too much to ask?

When I returned my car back to the rental car facility, I was greeted by yet, another eager, friendly employee just waiting to check me in.  I couldn't help myself to ask this employee about why everyone is so friendly around here.  He just said, "I guess we are all just WIRED that way."

How interesting is that?  I think there is a lot of truth in his revelation.  People can be hard wired for customer service.  So, how do the companies that always get customer service right, find people that are hard wired?

I know there is a lot of upfront work that has to happen to make sure we hire for that "hard wiredness" but how to you keep those types engaged and more importantly keep them on board?

What is your experience?  Please leave a comment or an example of a company that understands the concept of Hired Wired for Customer Service.


Barbara A Hughes said...

Great post, Cathy. So once, the company has selected and hired the hard wired people, don't the leaders and managers have to show up exactly the same way? Maybe they show more appreciation. And, they've designed a culture that allows these happy people to be who they are because it dazzles the customers. Netflix, Zappos and Southwest Airlines are 3 examples of making customers happy by carefully building the right culture, hiring great people and continually celebrating their successes.

Unknown said...

The culture piece is the key. I do know culture has to suport teh customer focus strategy, it can't be words on a strategy document, it can't be on a cofee mug, it has to be felt by emlployees and customers alike. That is what Zappos, Nordstom's have. You are so right leaders must walk their talk..sounds easy but hard to find.

Unknown said...

When I visit stores like the container Store, Apple or Starbucks I always noticed three things. 1st When they greet me they are always upbeat and interested in serving me. Second these companies are always on 100 Best Places to work. Third they do not have the cheapest products vs. the compition but they always have loyal customers. In sum it is easy to see that a company that focuses on developing all employees= happy employess which then = customers that are WOWED=and achieves the ultimate goal for a company=Good Profits by Sabine Taylor

Unknown said...

Thanks Sabine, you are so right about wowing the customers, the extra dollars spent come back to teh company in terms of profits and loyalty.

It was nice meeting you yesterday and thanks for commenting!!