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Customer service can be a tricky topic that will trip your small business up if you do not look at it the right way.

In a recent conversation with a lady who does training for various groups, we discussed the topic of customer service.  How does one define service? defines it as a noun: an act of helpful activity; as an adjective: of service, useful; and as a verb: to supply with aid, information, or incidental services.

I think how others define it depends on the needs of those whom they serve.  The other day as I talked to the owner of several day spa locations, he asked a similar question.  I told him, “You have to define customer service through the eyes of your clients, based on their needs.”  If you don’t know what your client’s highest need is, how can you serve their demand?  You can’t develop expectations for your team or adequately equip them until you answer this question, What is the highest level of service we can provide to our clients through their entire experience?  Many companies miss this opportunity because they don’t stress the details of customer service.

People are the key to customer service

Your website might be beautiful, but if it’s not easy to navigate, then it’s not providing excellent customer service to your customer/potential customer.  You might have a great “uptown” location for your business, but if parking is a challenge, then it’s not all that great for your customers.  Maybe you think that having an automated phone system is more efficient (saves you time and money) but if your customer wants to talk to someone right now about a problem or they have an urgent question, the system does not help them.  In some cases, automation saves and may be an easy way to get information quickly; however, it may not be the best practice in every situation.

What’s your customer service DNA?

Providing someone with information may be the highest level of customer service you can give them if that’s what they need.  Allowing someone in a wheelchair to safely and efficiently navigate your store, restaurant, or business establishment could, quite possibly, be the most important thing to them.  Are we able to put ourselves on the other side of the transaction and ask, “What would I want, need, or expect if I were the client?”  Clean restrooms are a huge deal to moms with small children.  Well lit, cleanly merchandised stores allow shoppers to enjoy a better shopping experience.  Helpful front desk and bell staff work out to be an informational gem for hotel guests.  It may seem intuitive to owners and managers that a smile, an enthusiastic spirit, and a genuine desire to WOW the customer are inherent in all who “serve” clients and customers; however, I fear that may not be the case. That is the case in a culture that has been built around those very basic expectations but if the culture has not been established, now is the time to start.  What’s your customer service DNA?

By Gina Herald