By: Alex Moffett, iD Legacy, Leadership Coaching
Maybe I’m just living in the old glory days of yesteryear and wishing they would return. I remember the day when…
You walked into an establishment, and people actually looked you in the eye and shook your hand. You were actually greeted enthusiastically and asked, “How may I be of service to you?” or “How may I help you?” When you asked a question, you weren’t treated like you just asked this person to do something that is unreasonable, foreign, or impossible, making you feel as if you, yourself, were an imposition.
In those days, most businesses and retailers went out of their way to take care of their customers because they understood this simple truth…Customers come first! Why? Because without customers, there is no business, no profits, no paycheck! It was as simple as that! It seems gone are the days when we were happy to see a customer walk through the door, or the phone would ring, and we would get excited because we got the opportunity to take care of somebody and solve a problem. People were treated like we really mattered (not just in business, but in life) because we really did!
OK, maybe my frustration makes me delusional, maybe I am exaggerating slightly, or maybe I have high expectations and need to be more realistic. Maybe I’m just old and cranky and really need to get in tune with the times. I mean, I recently celebrated my 60th birthday, so I think it’s fair to say that I am a little old-school or (at least according to my kids) just “old-fashioned” and a little behind the times. I accept that, although I prefer the term “vintage” – thank you very much!
If being old-fashioned means I still prefer personal, face-to-face human interaction, clear communication, service with a smile, and simplistic care that says, “You are seen and heard as a person” rather than a mere potential money-grab…I’m in! Then, yes, guilty as charged, I am officially “old-fashioned.”
But consider this: It’s those good old-fashioned values that have inspired and required us as a society to develop and utilize soft skills that can turn any marketplace interaction from a transactional exchange to a more “customer-centric” relational experience. And, could it be that somehow those same “soft skills” that have been at the cornerstone of great customer experiences have now found themselves going by the way of the Do-do? So how did we get here?
In a world full of impersonal interactions via DYI online shopping, chatbots, social media DMs, self-checkout lines, automated tellers, and advanced AI phone responders, could it be that we have somehow forgotten the importance of the human touch? Honestly, half of the time, we don’t even know if we are talking to a person.
Could the lockdown of the pandemic be a contributing factor as to why it seems we have lost the skills of talking and interacting with one another? Could it be why most marketplace interactions lately seem dry, impersonal, and transactional? Have our collective values been abandoned and replaced with apathy and simple goal-oriented exchanges with one another? Although I wish it weren’t so, it appears to me that the importance of customer service and creating the perfect customer experience is, sadly, a fleeting, nearly lost art. So what’s the solution?
Maybe we’ve got to get back to a customer-centric business focus! But what does it even mean to be customer-centric? It means a complete focus on prioritizing the customer’s experience in every aspect of your business, from the initial contact via marketing and social media to reception and phone engagement, from sales and product development to service and ongoing customer support in the back end. It is a deliberate and intentional fundamental understanding and practice of the old adage “Customer comes first” at the core of your company culture, and it shows!
If this feels good so far, imagine a company that offers the following:
- Communication – The company is excellent at communicating warmly and effectively because connection and clarity matter!
- Perspective – The company is in touch with your needs, motives, and values and strives to understand your perspective as a person first, then a potential customer.
- Value – The company is passionate about offering pressure-free, value-based solutions because they understand you work hard for your money, and only you get to decide how to spend it.
- Transparency – The company is transparent with its pricing and practices simply because they agree; trust is not simply given; it is earned.
- Care – The company is obsessed with the human touch, so whether it is remembering your birthday, personalizing your solutions or simply sending a considerate reminder text, they do it because they genuinely care!
- Protection – The company is committed to your protection via proper insurance, warranties, and written guarantees because they know sometimes things happen and you need to be covered.
- Excellence – The company is passionate about meeting, nay, exceeding your expectations because you have standards, and you deserve to be wowed!
I admit that at the end of the day, I wrote this article partly out of my frustration and partly because I want to know that there are others who see what I see (because I’m not crazy). Can I get an “amen”?
But I also wrote it to spread a little hope! You may have to look a little harder to find the gold these days, but it’s there. There are some giant retailers and small to midsize, family-owned and operated businesses that get it. And with everything that’s going on, they are a lot easier to spot these days. So what do we do? How do we, as consumers, respond?
Well, we find the ones that offer more of a relational experience, and then we shout it from the rooftops so that others can have and enjoy the customer-centric service of yesteryear! And, of course, when we find companies like this, big or small, we naturally reward them with our dollars and loyalty. And whenever possible, we write a review and let the business know why you chose them over all others. After all, every dollar we spend is a vote in favor of who will stay and who will go. Because at the end of the day, when it comes to spending my hard-earned dollars, I am always in charge, and so are you. Maybe yesteryear isn’t in the rearview mirror after all, and the glory days are, in fact, ahead of us all!
William and Alex Moffett are the founders and owners of PUR Home Services, a water treatment service company , as well as, iD Legacy which is a leadership Coaching company. To learn more about PUR Home Services please visit: purhomeservices.com or to reach Alex, feel free to email: firstname.lastname@example.org.