As a survivor of the October 2017 firestorm, I have a new perspective on customer service. Over the years I’ve read books and listened to some great speakers on the subject. I have a new perspective – empowerment.
My wife and I were renters in a nice area of Northeast Santa Rosa. After the fire consumed our entire neighborhood, belongings, and family heirlooms, we were forced to find a new rental and start over from scratch. We quickly learned to abandon our ego and ask stores if they offered fire victim discounts.
We quickly discovered a deeper truth of customer service. Here are two true stories….
There is a local deli near my office. When my wife and I went in there, the manager of the store motioned to the cashier that there would be no charge for our lunches. We ate there a few times over the next few weeks. Each time, the manager would take care of our bill. We didn’t ask, he just overheard us talking the first time we came in to eat in the first days after the fire.
The owner of the deli hired good people, and trained them to do the right thing – take care of the customer.
My wife and I were wine club members of two of our favorite wineries. We lost our little stash of wine from each recent wine club shipment. So, I called the first winery. I told the manager about our loss and asked if they were doing anything for wine club members to help us out with our loss. He told me that he was allowed to give me a 30% discount. I was already getting a 25% discount from my wine club membership. I said “thank you” and never went in to use it.
I called the second winery and asked the same question. The tasting room employee told me to just come to winery and they would take care of us. So, we went the following weekend. The owner of the winery came out and greeted us. He was aware of our story. He personally filled out an order form of what he thought we would enjoy. He set aside two assorted cases of wine that was hand selected by him. He did not charge us a penny, but insisted that we enjoy his wines as part of our recovery.
The next day I called and cancelled the membership to the first winery.
True customer service is about empowerment. Treating customers as you would want to be treated is the hallmark of amazing customer service. Business owners that get it create a culture where the people interacting with the customer have the confidence to do the right thing. They don’t have to get approval. They don’t have to check the policy manual. They are simply empowered.
Forget about the nice words written in your policy manual or on your lobby wall about how important your customers are to your company. Are your employees empowered to make a decision to take care of your customers?
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