Serving Others Well

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I hear that at executive meetings at Amazon one chair is always left vacant at the table. This chair represents the customer. It is a way of saying “Customer service is our priority”.

Contrast the Amazon situation with what I heard one professor say

“Teaching would be great if it were not for the students”

Now excellent service in is hardly a new idea. Most organizations subscribe to it. But how can we take it up a few notches so that we really serve others well?

Reflect on the following best practices for providing excellent service.

1.   It comes from the heart.

One can always tell whether the person serving us genuinely cares for us. Their primary concern is our welfare and satisfaction and not the sale they want to make. They think about our best interests. Not theirs.

Take patient/physician relationships. On average physicians interrupt patients within the first 17 seconds of an appointment. They are looking for a pattern of symptoms so they can quickly make a diagnosis, give you a prescription or referral, and get you out of the office. My physician patiently listens to me, makes sure I feel heard, treats me as a partner in the healing process, and as a result has my allegiance for life.

2. It takes into account customer needs.

Customers have their own reasons for wanting our service. In terms of business needs, they may want us to help them make the work easier or cheaper for their organization. They may also want us to help their brand be more distinctive in a competitive market. Personally they may want recognition or respect in the market. So whether it a business or personal need it is important to remember that we need to be attuned to their reasons not ours.

3. It is a long-term strategic partnership

The mark of great service is that it looks for a long-term relationship rather than just short-term gains. My mechanic in Mexico concluded an astounding service experience by saying to me “I want you as my customer for life”. His competence and personal care made me a believer in him. Gone are the days when R&D departments in technology companies believe “If we build it they will come.” Rather they see themselves as strategic partners with their clients and invent what the customer needs for future development.

Suggested Exercise

Try really listening to someone without interruption. Reflect back what they say by paraphrasing (their words) or summarizing (your words).

Now here is the radical part.

Don’t respond with a BUT. Respond with AND. And see what happens.

Maybe you will suddenly be in a collaborative dialog by recognizing their contribution and wisdom.

I once saw an interview with an actor who worked with Meryl Streep. He said, “When you work with Meryl she goes out of her way to make you look good.”

That’s what great customer service does. It makes the customer look good.

It serves others well.

 I Would Love To Hear From You

Please share a story of great customer service you have experienced. I will showcase all of them in some form in a future blog.


About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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