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  • Allen McFarland

Mastering the Art of Customer Service: A Guide to Recognizing Excellent Service

This is a long read, but a good one if you appreciate customer service!

Customer service is rooted in basically every job I’ve ever had. It’s the first job skill I learned and it’s something I have mastered over the years as I’ve practiced it, studied it, and trained others. It’s an art. I hear so often that today’s generation doesn’t understand good customer service like “back in the day” - that may or may not be true, but I think a lot of people have forgotten how to be patient, good customers too.

With that, here are my three principles of being a good customer or recipient of good customer service:

1) Thank the person who is serving you for their efforts. I never leave a business without saying “thank you the great customer service” if that’s what I received. It takes three seconds, and it makes a difference. The next time a waiter/waitress is especially attentive, a police dispatcher connects you with important resources, someone rings up your order efficiently, or you check out of a hotel, just take a moment and express your gratitude. Try it in person, and watch people’s face light up when they aren’t expecting it.

2) Remember to separate people from the circumstances when it’s applicable. “It’s going to be a twenty-minute additional wait” is not a person treating you poorly, so don’t punish the messenger. “We don’t have those slacks in your size” just means the business isn’t fully stocked, it’s not that the employee is hiding them from you or doesn’t want your business. The number one guidance for dealing with an angry customer is to not take it personally right? That angry customer is mad at the scenario, not you as the employee - just remember that it goes both ways.

3) If you are the type of person who complains to a manager when customer service is bad, at a minimum, speak up and call out every single time service is good. I think it is healthy to tell a manager or business that something wasn’t ideal during your experience as long as it’s constructive. How can a manager or business owner fix a problem if they aren’t made aware? That door swings both ways - let them know that someone is doing things the right way and say it right in front of them. An employee who feels appreciated and positive about what they are doing will give that much more effort to keep that feeling and it might just lift them up if they have been dealing with not so kind customers.

When you start going out of your way to call out high-quality service and you see how it makes people feel, two things will happen - you’ll realize the power in making people feel good about the work they do and you’ll learn to let go of things that you may have complained about before.

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