10 Tips for Customer Service (and Life)

10 Tips for Customer Service (and Life)

My name is Kevin Thompson. Over the years, I have been a dock worker, a youth and children’s program director, a salesperson, a district manager, an author, an artist, Santa Clause, and Barney (no kidding… in public). I have a degree from a university in a field which I do not work. My feet have stepped on a few continents and walked in several countries. For me, life has been a whirlwind of adventures. I have been on both sides of sanity, respected and dismissed, flat broke and doing alright, and I have both extended and received grace beyond reason.

Nothing about my experience is extraordinary. Not one of the things I have done was unique. All of the events in my life have been attended by others. There is no belief, on my part or the part of others, that I have anything different to say than anyone else. What I have going for me, is that I am willing to try. I try, not because I need another vocation, but because life is too exciting for me to only work 50 hours a week.

I also like to help. These words, this list, might help in life or they might also help in customer service. One never really knows.

Number 10. It Is All Customer Service

Whether you are dealing with team members, paying customers, family members, or friends, it is all customer service. When we adopt the mindset of “service”, everyone becomes our customer. Everyone becomes someone we might serve in one capacity or another.

Number 9. Listening Is the Answer

What is the first step to great customer service? Understanding what service a customer needs. No one feels good about a product or service they did not want or need, but somehow acquired, through the slick speech someone gave about that product or service.

Number 8. Customer Service Is Not Problem Management

Customer service begins long before there is a problem with the product or service previously provided. Being proactive in performing customer service makes the difference in how a customer perceives a company and those that work with that company.

Number 7. You Cannot Make Them Happy

Happiness for your customer should never be a goal. Some people are miserable and that is what makes them happy. Happiness is a big step for most people. Keep this in perspective. Here is a link to an article on happiness… it is a process. You are responsible for a lot already. Do not take on the challenge of making others happy.

Number 6. Believe In What You Do

Are you offering a fair product for a fair price? This is important and you should love what you do. If you do not love it, you are able to do something else or learn to love what you do. Is it that simple? Yes. Interactions with customers (remember family and friends are included here) are often predetermined by how we feel about what we do.

Number 5. You Are a Customer

We all have stories about a cable company, or a chicken place, or a mechanic, that we love to tell. Whether the service was good or bad, we are compelled to tell the stories of how we were treated. Most of our praise or complaints are based on whether we were treated with respect, feel we received a value, and if the company providing a service was empathetic to our needs. Let that guide your interaction with your customers.

Number 4. People Know Crazy

Our reaction to social media may be a bit skewed. When a customer threatens to mount a social media, or other smear campaign, we should understand that if we have treated a customer fairly, the truth always wins. Buddha said there are three things that never remain hidden for long. The sun, the moon, and the truth. Never be afraid of the truth. People are smarter than we believe and know that if someone is complaining that they could not get a large combo meal for a nickel, it may not be the fault of a fast food place.

Number 3. Know Your Customer

Every chance you have, whether in a line at a grocery store or in a parking lot at a car wash, take time to know your customer. Not in an analytical way and not in a way that would fit nicely on a spreadsheet, but in a human way. Hear stories about grand kids, vacations, upcoming surgeries, lost loved ones, and simple joys. There is no substitute, in business, or in being human, for knowing your customer.

Number 2. Be Present

Our brains are designed to do one thing at a time. As much as we love to criticize other generations for “being on their phone” while performing tasks, we older folks are just as likely to be in a conversation while thinking about the next item on our list of things to do, the phone call we forgot to make, or even what we are having for dinner. We should be obligated to our customers, and our friends and family, to be present. With them, for the time we have, and not anywhere else in our mind.

Number 1. Focus On the Good Stuff

We have all walked away from an interaction with a customer we just could not satisfy, wondering if we failed, or if they were insane. Never, and I mean never, let this be the last interaction of your work day. If this happens, immediately find another customer and create a positive experience. If that is not possible, call a team member and praise them for something they did well. I keep a list of customers in my phone that I “check on” in times like these. There is always more good than bad and we should create our last meeting of the day in a positive way.

Bonus Tip. Trust Everyone

This may be where I lose some of you. In my estimation, about 10-15 percent of the people I deal with are in some way dishonest about their experience or their role in escalating an already tough situation. There are those that are honest and those that are not. This is a fact of life. It benefits us to treat the 10-15 percent of people like we would the 90 percent that are honest, rather than the other way around. Suspicion never helped any person or situation.

These are all suggestions and meant only to provoke thought. If you disagree, feel free to comment below. When you comment, share a story about your grand kids, vacation, or simple joys.

To the RestingTimes.com readers, pardon my business theme. For the LinkedIn crowd, pardon my non-business like approach to customer service.

Happy Day.



3 thoughts on “10 Tips for Customer Service (and Life)”

  • Hi Kevin. I really like this piece. I hope you use it with your employees, because it’s the kind of thinking that very few young people seem to grasp. Meanwhile – you know me – always the editor – there’s one typo. It’s in Number 1. You left the “y” off of they. ( ” … praise them for something they did well.”). I once thought about publishing the shortest management book ever. The title was “The Only Thing,” and there was only one sentence: “The only thing necessary for a manager to do a good job is to make it as easy as possible for their employees to do their jobs.” I never published it, of course. Because it would take a day-long seminar to explain. But I believe it really is that simple. Anyhow, I enjoy your work so much. Thanks again for sharing it. Jim

    • Thank you for catching the spelling and that is a great idea for a book. You could be the next TedX sensation.

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