Do You Know the 5 Steps to Excellent Customer Service?
By Diane Van Wyngarden, Tourism Specialist
In prior newsletter issues, we highlighted the first two steps a business must do to provide excellent service to its customers. Those steps are “Make it Your Own” and “Make it Personal”.
Step 3 is “Make it EFFICIENT”.
I knew they were coming and was prepared for the worst. I had agreed to teach a 7:00 a.m. customer service workshop, then learned that a gas station was sending six front-line staff. Convenience store employees are among the most-recruited participants for customer service workshops because they unknowingly create a traveler’s first impression of a community, good or bad. Their actions can persuade a traveler to stay in town, or quickly leave. However, these particular employees were coming because their boss said their attendance was mandatory. Audiences who are required to attend mandatory early-morning workshops are typically belligerent; sulky, at best.
Surprisingly, the Oskaloosa Jiffy employees arrived with dispositions matching the sunrise, and they selected front row seats. They eagerly engaged in discussions throughout the workshop; but emerged as leaders of creative ideas for Step 3: Make it Efficient. They shared how they personally assist customers who have disabilities, and how raising convenience to a new level produces regular customers. Their enthusiasm towards serving their customers was genuine, and it was impressive.
I stopped at Jiffy in Oskaloosa after the workshop, because I had to meet their boss. Rhonda Hockey has managed Jiffy for 17 years, and customer service is her mission. Many of her employees have no prior experience working with the public when they begin, or prior knowledge of customer service basics. Rhonda trains her staff, and then continues as coach. Rhonda tells her staff to put “a smile in their voice”, and posts large reminder cards behind the counter, including “greet each customer as they come in the door”. It was a weekday afternoon, but business was brisk at Jiffy. I watched Rhonda’s staff hustle to serve customers as quickly as possible.
Convenience stores epitomize efficiency. Oskaloosa’s Jiffy is not the largest, nor the newest convenience store in town. They do not serve pizza, donuts, or subs. Their product is listening to their customer, making their services as efficient as possible, and personally assisting whenever they can.
How do you make it efficient? Time is money. Customers want transactions handled quickly and accurately. Staff should know answers to frequently asked questions, and be able to handle customer needs without referring them to someone else. Apologize if a customer had to wait, even if only a minute. How can you impress your customers by demonstrating that their time is valuable?
Watch for the next Customer Service steps in future newsletter issues.
See more information about our Customer Service and Community Tourism Strategies workshops at https://www.extension.iastate.edu/communities/customer-service-workshops
Upcoming Customer Service and Community Tourism Strategies workshops:
- Harlan (Shelby County): April 9
- Fort Dodge: April 16