A happy voice and beautiful smile are the cherries on top of the cake in customer service. The recipe calls for a good company vibe, the skill to listen to people and a professional and well-informed service approach regarding the product or service. Let’s say that a chef prepares food with love and the same can also be seen in customer service; each professional is motivated and feels appreciated for the work they do and the work feels meaningful. This gives the customer the impression that the company is more than just a beautiful exterior. Even mistakes are allowed without making one sweat, and a good night’s sleep is guaranteed for the time being.
We were once eating out with a group of friends and enjoying the evening at a restaurant. The rest of the group received their dishes, but mine was nowhere to be seen. I waived to the waiter and asked after my dish. The waiter immediately strode briskly towards the kitchen. Moments later, she returned and said that she had taken my order and delivered it to the kitchen, but the cook had screwed up and forgot to prepare my dish. I was getting annoyed; a rumbling stomach and a low blood sugar were starting to make my good humour go away, but most of all, I was annoyed at the waiter’s lack of situation awareness. She did not apologise for the situation nor suggest how it could be resolved, and the last straw was shifting the blame onto her colleague. None of the things she did had in no way brought me closer to getting food on the table in front of me. In the end, the situation was resolved, somehow.
But actually this experience has been saved on my hard drive and has provided me with my main guidelines for working with customers. Mistakes happen; they are sometimes made by people and other times by systems. Unfortunately, the customer is often the one who first notices the mistake. I always hope that when this happens the customer would give his or her valuable feedback to us and, once we have the opportunity to respond to the complaint, we have one of the most important encounters of our entire company and our customer service at hand. It is in these situations that the service promises that we have made are redeemed and we get to show what our values are made of. We apologise, listen and genuinely want to remedy the situation in the best possible way for the customer. Do not be afraid to admit to a mistake, even when you notice it before the customer; they happen to all of us and your honesty can often gain you the customer’s respect.
Customer encounters are the essence of my work, whether they occur face to face or through electronic channels.
I always try to smile, even in my e-mails. An ex-colleague whom I respect would sometimes tease me, saying, Jonna, remember to put a triple ending in your message – and so I do, even to this day. It is my way
of caring for and respecting others.
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Have a nice day!