In our new book, Legendary Service: The Key is to Care, Ken Blanchard, Vicki Halsey and I use a parable format to teach some very important—and often surprising—elements of creating a customer focused culture within a company. Even though we use a fictional story to get the point across, all of the examples and lessons come from real life experiences the three of us have had while creating customer-centric cultures in the organizations we have worked with.
For example, one of the main characters in our story, Professor Hartley, a college professor who teaches business at the local university gives his students an assignment to help them recognize the importance of building stronger relationships when serving customers. Hartley also wants them to be less focused on themselves and more focused on the people they are interacting with. He gives them some general instructions to be friendly, learn and use customer’s names, and talk about something other than the transaction.
What the students don’t know is that Hartley is also laying the foundation for changing their beliefs about serving others. His parting comment to the class is that they may be in for a surprise, because when you put your customers first, believe it or not, you will notice an immediate difference in how YOU feel about your job.
Too many people see customer service as an unrewarding assignment dealing with the problems and personalities of a cranky public. And while these types of customers certainly exist, going to work with that expectation never makes things better. The most successful—and happiest—customer service professionals go to work with a different attitude—they approach their work with an attitude of caring.
This one change makes a world of difference. Now you see your role as solving problems, making life a little easier, or bringing some joy and happiness into someone else’s life. When you look at your job that way, it’s easy to see how that leads to a more fulfilling sense of accomplishment.
What’s your attitude toward customer service? It’s amazing how often service providers get caught up in their own world and their own needs. Now, serving customers is a pain, annoyance, or at best, a necessary evil to be managed.
If your beliefs around service could use some reframing, here are a couple of ideas to consider. Answer true or false to each of these statements:
- It is better to give than receive.
- Doing nice things for others makes you feel better about yourself.
- Some of the greatest joy in life comes when helping others.
If you answered true to any of these, you already know (and have probably experienced) the joy and fulfillment that comes from serving others. And while most people might think that joy comes when you look out for #1, service professionals will tell you that there is also another way. Try it this week. Be interested in others; help others; and see what a difference it makes in your own life.
Kathy Cuff is a customer service expert and coauthor of the new book, Legendary Service: The Key is to Care. Learn more about her book here and also check out a free webinar Kathy is conducting on April 16, Creating A Customer Focused Organization, courtesy of Cisco WebEx and The Ken Blanchard Companies.