Customer Service Tip: LITTLE THINGS make a big difference

There is a moment of truth every time your service people are in contact with your customers.

Your customers will form an impression, based on that moment of truth. It will either be positive, negative – or no impression at all.

And it is often the little things that will make a big difference to the type of impression your customers will form.

The question is, “Are you training your service people to sweat the small stuff – to focus on the little things that make a big difference?”

Let me explain.

LITTLE THING number one: first impressions

I entered the pathology lab. I was changing health care providers and needed to have a blood test.

I took a number and sat down.

A young lady asked me to come to the counter.

Within 5 steps, I was at the counter. I showed the her eye contact, but her eyes were not on me. In a rather abrupt tone, she said, “Have you been here before?” She put the form in front of me and asked me to fill it out.

First impressions make a big difference. The remainder of your experiences are anchored around those first few moments. My expectations of what were likely to follow were anchored around a rather off-hand first impression. I was expecting a very ordinary experience from that first moment of truth.

A warm, friendly smile, with eye contact, would have would have created a positive expectation of what I was likely to experience in the remainder of my time with this lab. It would have put me in a positive state.

Show eye contact, smile. Little things? Yes. Are they important? Yes.

The pathology lab scored low marks on creating a positive first impression.

I took my seat and waited to be called to have my blood taken.

LITTLE THING number two: “mind your language”

The phone rang. Another person appeared and took the call.

Within a few seconds, I heard her saying, in a rather loud voice, “You gotta (do this). You gotta (do that) etc”.

“You gotta” sounded very course as it went from her lips to my ears.

I gathered that the customer on the other end of the phone was asking when she could eat before a blood test.

I don’t know the exact contents of the conversation, but I do recall the rather unpolite use of language.

The tone of the conversation would have been much different if the employee had said, “To make sure that we get the correct blood readings, it’s important that you….”

Customers like to be given a reason why. And they like to be treated with old fashioned politeness.

Tone of voice. Use of words. Little things? Yes. Are they important? Yes,

Nice people can give bad service – because of the “LITTLE THINGS”

The person who answered the phone was the person who took my blood sample.

She called me and I was soon sitting in a chair in a little room, about to have a syringe poked into my left arm.

As she was preparing my arm, I started up some small talk.

She engaged in this brief conversation in a friendly manner. This person is fundamentally a nice person.

The key point is that this nice person, because of the “little things” can still give lousy service.  Her phone manner is a simple example.

She didn’t realise that she was doing anything wrong. Neither did the first employee who did not show eye contact as she shoved a form under my nose.

Many companies do not focus on the human side – the “LITTLE THINGS”

I don’t think that we can blame the two people in the lab for doing what they did. This is because they don’t know any better.

My guess is that they were employed to take people’s blood.  This is the functional side of the customer experience. Their badge of honour is to be efficient and not to hurt people as they prick needles into customers’ arms. They did this well.

As a customer experience consultant, I can’t see any evidence of the management of the pathology lab having thought about the human side of the customer experience. And as a result, they have no basis for training their people on anything but how to be efficient and not hurt people.

And here is the point.

Most businesses are just like this. They focus on the transaction rather than the customer behind the transaction. They focus on the sale rather than building a relationship.

And, as with the pathology lab, it often takes just a few “little things” to create the human touch.

Skip all the way to the bank…

Make your customer service people aware that they have an opportunity to create a positive impression at every moment of truth. And make sure that you train them in the little things that will take those brief moments from ordinary to extraordinary.

When you do this, and educate and coach to create consistency, you will skip all the way to the bank – propelled forward by the goodwill of your increasingly loyal band of customers.

Until next time.

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