We can train people on how to deliver good customer service.
We teach people how to greet customers when they walk in the store, how to properly answer the phone when customers call the company and much more. It’s easy to teach the basics. They are part of the operation and the process. They happen every day. But, sometimes there are opportunities to deliver customer service when it’s not expected. An employee does something, not because they were taught to do it, not because it’s expected, but simply because it’s intuitively the right thing to do.
This reminds me of a job that I had while I was in college. Sometimes people asked me about my job, and I said, “I’m in the oil business.” Then, I would pause two or three seconds to let that comment sink in. I knew what they were thinking, “Wow, a young guy still in college. How did he get into the oil business? Impressive!” Then I continued with, “Which means I pump gas.”
Of course, they would laugh. And, even the comment about pumping gas wasn’t 100% accurate. I worked at a self-service gas station. People pumped their own gas. I just took the money. But, one day I actually did pump gas.
On that Saturday morning, it was bitter cold. The temperature was minus three below zero. The chill-factor was even lower than that. An elderly woman drove into the gas station. She had to be in her eighties, and she looked frail. She stepped out of her car and slowly walked around her car to the gas pump when I ran out of the building and asked her to get back inside her warm car. I informed her that I would be happy to fill her car up with gas. She smiled and thanked me.
Eventually, I came back into the warm building and my manager asked me what I had just done. I told him I filled that lady’s car up with gas. He then said, “Son, we’re a self-service gas station. That means our customers pump their own gas. Now that lady is going to expect this the next time she comes back here.”
I couldn’t believe he was criticizing me for helping an elderly woman. I responded, “Well, at least she’ll come here instead of going to the gas station across the street.”
The point of this story is that I didn’t fill that customer’s car up with gas because I had to. It’s because I wanted to. Sometimes that is where the best customer service takes place. In the moments where you don’t have to do something for someone out of obligation, but simply because it feels like it’s the right thing to do. And, it usually is!
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