I just experienced bad customer service.
I went to tour a school that I’m thinking about for my daughter, I keep hearing wonderful things about it, and when I got to the school office, the secretary informed me that my tour had been canceled. She said it very matter of factly, and she sounded a bit perturbed because she’d left me a message at home and SOMEONE (who shall remain anonymous but is the only other ADULT living in the house who I thought could take a phone message but obviously I overestimated on that one… vent, vent, vent, OK over it…) didn’t give me the message.
OK, all’s well. I lost half of my morning…. miscommunication in my house isn’t her problem… any normal person who deals with the public and is the first point of contact for an organization will surely be sympathetic at the least.
But she barely even smiled nor offered a “Oh dear, I’m so sorry that happened”. Nothing. I got a scowl.
Then she invited me to visit on Friday.
“I can’t come in on Friday, I volunteer all day at my child’s school. That’s why I’m here on a Monday.”
“Well, our tours are on Fridays.”
“I understand that and appreciate your flexibility. I run a business and Fridays are my day at my child’s current school. When we first spoke I explained that Mondays are the days I can come in for a tour.”
“How about 9am Friday?”
“I can’t come in on Friday.”
“Not even at 9am?”
OK… are YOU starting to get a tad annoyed with this exchange? Because by that point I’m thinking “Forget this school, my kid will be fine where she is. Harumph!”
And as I left the school office, despite happy child mosaics all around me, I realized how one person at a key point of connection has tilted me towards NOT even wanting to tour, regardless of the day. She decided to be totally inflexible, and it started to feel more like a power play over calendars than a prospective family entering their school.
It’s amazing how a bad customer service experience can be like a splash of cold water on your face.
And as I drove home, I started composing an email to send my team.
Dear Team Viva:
My business is built around discovering what makes multi-talented people amazing and GREAT and using that GREATNESS as the cornerstone of a profitable, highly visible business.
Every client… every person we come in contact with… must know that we are GREATNESS detectors. We see it, feel it, believe it even before they do.
It’s what this business is all about, it’s my gift and mission. Make sure your every action is coming from this place.
We have an extraordinary amount of southern charm on our team and diplomacy beyond belief. Whenever there’s an issue, I remind my team to pour some sugar on their responses and to keep a smile on. My mom worked as a nurse for close to 50 years. She dealt with some very difficult patients in excruciating pain. Her motto: “Kill ‘em with kindness”. (figuratively, of course!)
Your Profitable Essence (that thing you do in your work that is unmatched and unequaled by anyone else) must be reflected throughout your entire business. I must thank the sour school secretary for reminding me of this.
If only the secretary at that school had dropped just a little sweetness in her response, I’d be racing to make my next appointment. If this is how she handled things at 9am on a Monday, I don’t want to be anywhere near later in the week!
Here’s a question: how do you infuse great customer service in your business so it’s an extension of your values, your mission, and your Profitable Essence?
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