Productive Leaders

Ph.D., CSP, CDR, US Navy Ret.,
CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame

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Great Customer Service

Leaders Live Great Customer Service

  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 asked. She ignored me and continued talking to the other cashier while running my items through the scanner.   She knew I was there, but she never stopped talking long enough for even a quick acknowledgement. I was actually fascinated by the rudeness, and I wondered how deliberate the behavior was, so I stepped into her line of sight while they continued the conversation about her weekend. My cash register person then altered her stance so she could still talk to and look at the other women. She rang up my three items, and I paid by sliding my card. Throughout the entire transaction, this front-line customer service person never even recognized that I was there nor stopped talking as she handed me my bagged merchandise. Wow. By sharp contrast, at the Royal Plaza Hotel in Singapore last week, the bellman greeted me by name and he said, “Welcome back to your second home.” The reception agent then commented, “We are so pleased to have you back.” 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 that happen more often? Why is great or even decent customer service so difficult to implement? How do leaders instill a sense of attention to the customer? Why does customer service sound so easy and yet is so hard for so many people to do well? 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
  2. 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. Communicate the need to take care of customers.
  4. Train employees to think like the customers they serve.
  5. Instill the sense that customers deserve to be valued.
  6. Cherish customers.


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