Customer service: when it really is all it's cracked up to be

I recently moved house from north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to south of the bridge.  In terms of the gravity of such a decision, this is right up there with moving from Australia to the UK or relocating from the country to the city.

Few towns are as divided between those who have an undying allegiance to the north vs those with an almost nationalistic fervour for the south as Sydney.   Nevertheless, I made the decision and, so far, it’s worked out well.

When familiarising myself with my new ‘hood’, I took a trip to the local Coles to stock up on a few supplies.  Now, grocery shopping has always ranked near the top of my ‘least favourite things list’ right alongside knitting, ironing, gardening and Angela Bishop.

However, this time, something was different.  As I walked into the Coles I was greeted by what can only be called a concierge.  He had a shopping basket at the ready which he presented me with, smiled at me graciously and wished me a pleasant shopping experience.

I was pretty taken aback by this.  Over the years, my previous supermarket shopping experiences had been tarnished by some ruthless indifference.  To suddenly be treated like an appreciated customer shook me to my foundations.

Against all odds, I was now in a frame of mind to enjoy my grocery shopping; all thanks to a little customer service that went the extra mile.

I’ve always been a little reserved when it came to expressing praise regarding customer service.  I was of the opinion that people shouldn’t be celebrated simply for doing what they get paid to do.

Well, faster than you could say “would you like fries with that?”, my mindset had changed.  Even a small degree of customer service that went above the norm was enough for me to reconsider how much I hated doing one of my least favourite things.

The trick is figuring out how to implement above and beyond customer service techniques into other jobs.  As a PR consultant it’s not exactly “demonstrating exceptional customer service” for me to hand a shopping basket to my clients during a meeting.

But perhaps the lesson here is that good customer service doesn’t necessarily have to be grandiose things and lavishing praise upon your clients.  While clients may appreciate you making big gestures, like a new Aston Martin or an all expenses paid holiday to South America, maybe it’s also the little things they truly notice.

Whether it’s an email congratulating them on a small new venture, stopping by their office when you’re in the neighbourhood to say hello, or remembering their favourite coffee order, small personal touches can often be just as effective as the more high-profile gifts.

After all, if I can enjoy grocery shopping simply because someone with a smile handed me a basket, then really there’s hope for anyone.

This article first appeared on Sefiani Communications Group's website.

Click here to email Dylan about the above column.

Click here to go back to the homepage.

As soon as Angela Bishop comes on TV,
I turn it off in record time

I think my clients would love me forever
if I gave them a new Aston Martin.