Do all customers deserve great service? What about those who always find something to complain about? How about those who never tip…or never say “thank you”…or never seem to smile, ever? Up to this point, most of my writing, consulting, and training have always been based on the premise that all customers deserve the best we have to offer. After a recent encounter, however, my eyes are now open and I understand a very important truth that I never fully grasped before. At some point, we have to realize that our motivation to provide exceptional service cannot be based on the customer or whether he or she deserves it or not.
Grocery store cashier
Early, on a recent Sunday morning, I went up to my neighborhood grocery store to buy some items. Only two lines were open. After all, it was before 8AM on a Sunday morning. The line that I went in was staffed by a cashier who was prompt, thorough and engaging at the same time. When it was my turn, I couldn’t help but thank her for being so wonderful to all of her customers. (Now here’s the good part). She graciously thanked me, and then said “Well, I am not doing this for me. I’m not even doing this for the store. I’m doing it for him…(she pointed skyward). I HAVE TO serve with excellence because He serves us with excellence everyday”. Wow.
The implication immediately hit me. Her motivation to serve with excellence was not based on customers. In fact, it didn’t really matter who the customers were. She was going to be exceptional anyway.
If we are being really honest, not all customers are enjoyable to serve. As professionals, however, we are supposed to be consistent, and our consistency cannot waiver. This means that our motivation has to be intrinsic and rooted in something that is firm and does not change. For the cashier, her source was a spiritual one. Your source could be that you are grateful for waking up every day. Or your source may be that you think of your children and hope to be a model that they can shape their lives after. Or perhaps you think of a deceased relative or friend or teacher or coach who was ALWAYS kind to you, and you strive to honor that person through how you serve others.
By seeking to find a source to base your motivation on, you may find an additional reserve that you were unaware of.
The Most Important Number
The last person you serve at the end of your shift, should not feel like they are the last person being served at the end of your shift. Period.
Sometimes, as we strive to please ALL customers, we forget how important ONE customer is. We may unintentionally dismiss or disregard the relevance of one customer. But that single customer may decide to tell many other friends and family members about the business. Plus, through the power of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Travelocity, YouTube, etc), countless more can either be turned off or turned on to your company.
Each day, at each touchpoint, strive to make each customer feel cherished. Not because of potential future business, but because of how much you are grateful for being in a position to serve others. And because you are grateful, you will not allow yourself to give anything less than your absolute best…regardless if your customer deserves it or not.