Customer Service—it can’t be about THEM until it’s about YOU

There’s a common misconception that customer service is all about the customer. Surprise—it’s not necessarily so. Service is definitely for the customer—internal or external—but it’s about you, the service provider.

“What?” you may be asking. “No, it’s about my client.” True … kinda. But it can’t be about them until it’s about you.

The service experience begins and ends with you. That experience is primarily within your control. You get to decide the kind of experience you want it to be. It’s your vision, values, and behavior that drive the service experience.

A case in point

Many years ago, on February 14, I was flying from Chicago back home to San Francisco. I remember the day not only because it was Valentine’s Day, but because I had a reason to be excited that it was Valentine’s Day. (HA!—a rare occasion at that time in my life.)

I arrived at Chicago O’Hare Airport in what I thought was plenty of time to catch my flight, only to discover that I had misread my flight time as my boarding time. Now, instead of being early, I was running late. Once through security, with my briefcase and coat in one hand and my purse in the other, I started running to my gate. As I was running, a felt someone take my briefcase.

I stopped, looked up, and a guy with his hand on my briefcase said, “Where are you goin’?”

I said, “To Gate 75.”

He said, “Let’s go.”

He then took my briefcase and coat and ran all the way to Gate 75 with me. Once we arrived, he handed me my briefcase and coat, wished me well, and left.

Thinking beyond the job description

I don’t know who he was or what he did at the airport. From the jumpsuit, my guess is that he worked in engineering, facilities, or something of that nature. My guess is also that no place in his job description did it say,  “When you see a woman running frantically through the airport with a coat and briefcase in one hand and a purse in the other, stop whatever you’re doing, take her coat and briefcase, and run to Gate 75 with her.” I would wager big bucks those words did not exist in his job description anywhere—but he did it anyway.

Service experiences are visceral. What will that experience feel like, look like, and sound like, with you? As a trainer, facilitator, speaker, and consultant, I want to leave participants feeling inclined, compelled, perhaps even inspired to act—to learn more, share information, try something new, DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT!

So, decide:

•             What’s your goal for the service experience?

•             How do you want to leave people feeling?

•             What do you want people saying about you?

Since decisions can become behaviors and behaviors can become instinct—decide  carefully.

About the author:

Ann Phillips is a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies.  You can read Ann’s posts as a part of our customer service series which appears on the first and third Thursday of each month.

5 thoughts on “Customer Service—it can’t be about THEM until it’s about YOU

  1. Pingback: Customer Service—it can’t be about THEM until it’s about YOU |

  2. Sorry Joseph, I am sure this good man has gone nowhere in his carreer and still is walking around in his jump suit, if he wasn´t fired. This is life. Costumer caring people never get promoted. Ask Ann, she’s the expert. Would be nice to read a report about this phenomena.

  3. Reblogged this on Optimizing Healing Healthcare and commented:
    Just this afternoon, my mom and I were at a hospital for an appointment. She needed to stop and catch her breath for a moment, holding on to a railing while she did so. A maintenance man coming towards us immediately asked, “Would you like a wheelchair?”

    Like this blog, customer service can’t be about THEM until it’s about YOU. In other words, this maintenance man made a decision and choice that “he is the patient experience” as much as anyone — a nurse, physician, pharmacist, social worker, etc. His attentiveness, awareness, compassion, and proactive anticipation of my mom’s potential needs were very impressive! He was certainly not confined to his “job description” box but was living and working as a “healer” — responding to body, mind, spirit and emotions! He left us feeling cared for and about — that anyone in the hospital will care for us in our time of need! That is very reassuring and is a hallmark of an optimal healing environment for sure!

  4. Ann, Thanks for sharing the reality that if I am not OK with me that will show up in every conversation: customer and all others. Yee haa

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