Here’s a thought: Great customer service is like paying it forward. I spend quite a bit of time researching great customer service. I think about my own customer service experiences and I hope to deliver great customer experiences. So I ponder which events and experiences leave me with the biggest impression. I was having a discussion with a colleague today about paying it forward and how great that is for the universe, and then it occurred to me: great customer service is like paying it forward.
If you think about the last time you thought “Wow, I am truly impressed with the experience I just had,” I bet you’ll think about someone who went above and beyond. Look at this list:
Above and Beyond
- She was nicer than anyone else I’ve spoken to there
- He showed more enthusiasm that I’ve ever seen
- She took more time to answer my question
- He seemed more interested in what I had to say
- She was the best listener
- He was more patient than the other one
Do some of these ring a bell? All of these have in common that someone did more than the bare minimum while completing a task. Now, combine this with anticipation. If you provide more before you are even asked, this is considered anticipating customer need.
Anticipating Customer Need
- A hotel worker notices a guest walking toward the door dressed professionally, without an umbrella. The hotel worker runs toward the guest, umbrella in hand, to lend assistance.
- A drive-thru worker takes a paper towel and wipes droplets of soda from the cup before handing it through the window to a customer.
- A service writer at a local repair shop hands a coloring book and crayons to a five-year old boy
These are the interactions we remember. These actions create the brand. And in none of these cases did a customer ask for something. The employee is just… paying it forward. The employee is doing something unrequired and unexpected out of the kindness of his or her heart, with no immediate hope of compensation for that act. Paying it forward.
So, as we talk to our employees about giving something that “extra touch,” or “smiling at people,” or whatever else we say, maybe we should talk about paying it forward. Maybe we say that by thinking about what we would want in that situation and offering it to the customer before asked, we can really make another person’s day better. If I have a better day while patronizing your business, doesn’t it make sense that I will associate your brand with feeling good?