As some people know, my wife and I are entrepreneurs and own several different businesses; a couple of childcare centers, a seasonal Santa Claus business, and a business & personal effectiveness coaching company. This week, two of them got to play together as her childcare centers had several Christmas parties for the kids & staff and I was able to make several appearance as Santa.
On Saturday night, after one set of children’s & staff parties were over, my wife called me to ask if Santa would be willing to make a special appearance later that evening for one of the kids. Apparently, a parent got the time wrong and arrived with her daughter 90 minutes after the parties were over. The little girl was upset because she got all dressed up to see Santa, and couldn’t participate in any of the party’s activities. My wife pulled together some of the party food for them, talked to the mom about what we might be able to do, and then called me. Later that evening, Santa paid a visit to the house of a very surprised little girl to deliver her a Christmas present and a bag of special “reindeer food” to spread outside on Christmas Eve. Why ? Because he got a message on the way back to the North Pole that she missed the party. Now that family has some really nice photos and even nicer memories.
Some readers are going to say “Come one now… ‘Santa’ made a special appearance because it was the holiday season and your wife called you.” Did I respond because my wife called me? Absolutely… because she was MY customer. And I wanted to make sure that my customer was happy, and I knew that it was important to her.
Whether you’re a billion-dollar enterprise with thousands of employees, or a handful of people at a bootstrapped startup, remember that outstanding customer service is paramount to your business and can make or break future business opportunities. Here are some of my thoughts regarding customer service.
- Remember that every customer touchpoint is an opportunity to provide great service. Map out these interactions and look for ways to improve the experiences your customers receive.
- Recognize and reward good customer service. An impressed customer is likely to make a comment about their experience. Share that with your teams.
- It won’t be all wine and roses. When there are delays or mistakes in your product or service, own up to them, develop recovery plans, and communicate honestly with the customer. Sometimes just keeping people informed can diffuse bad situations and lead to other alternatives.
- Manage your image. Showing up for a customer meeting unprepared or poorly dressed tells them that they’re not a priority.
- Ask for customer feedback and perform voice-of-the-customer interviews on a regular schedule. Really use what you learn to improve your products, services, and processes otherwise customers won’t feel that their input matters.
- Make sure everyone understands your company’s mission, vision, and value statements (and create them if your company doesn’t have them). Without these, people won’t be aligned on some of the most basic ideas within your organization.
- Pay it forward. Thank your customers for their business, referrals, feedback, and participation in your business by helping them where you can.
- Under promise and over deliver. Give them more than they were expecting.
Most important, in my opinion, is having a true love and passion for your work and business. With these, you’re going to be more motivated and productive to meet your goals. You’ll have more energy and be excited to take on issues when required. And you’ll enjoy serving others as part of your business.