Customer Service: What, It’s Not An Oxymoron?

Call me cynical, but I don’t usually expect customer service to live up to its promises.

In my experience, cheery retail assistants are thin on the ground. And the empathetic call centre agent portrayed in countless advertisements – exchanging a joke with the customer while efficiently processing their enquiry – is instead all too often the energy-sapping menu, crackly line to distant shores and profound ignorance of my existence.

Lately, however, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

I’ve received excellent service in a couple of stores. One person not only knew his product but understood why I’d need all my paint from one batch, and rang round neighbouring stores until he found sufficient quantity.

An insurance claim was dealt with by someone with both patience to unpick my rambling explanation and the common sense to arrive at a solution quickly and efficiently.

And heavy, difficult to carry stuff I’d ordered turned up on time and was delivered to the end of my garden (the terms and conditions said kerbside; the driver and his mate said no problem, sir).

In each case, the individuals concerned put the customer first, clearly felt empowered to make decisions and acted as outstanding ambassadors for their respective companies.

What’s interesting is that none of them seemed to think that their standard of service was unusual, let alone exceptional.

If you have people like that in your organisation, bind them to you with hoops of steel. And encourage others to follow their example.

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Rod Hirsch is Global Director Brand and Content at Thunderhead. Joining the Thunderhead team in 2010, Rod has spearheaded the development of the Thunderhead voice, building the company’s brand strategy and content and bringing alive its vision and expertise in multi-channel customer engagement. With over 30 years in the business of building brands for B2B clients, Rod has combined strategic thinking and tactical implementation to deliver award-winning programmes for starts-ups and multinationals alike.