I’m going to give you the ultimate guide in how to get awesome customer service as I rarely have a bad customer service experience. I think this may be my part of playing a minor Dungeon Master for life.
Here’s the tip of a lifetime if you want to get perfect customer service every single time. One rule to guide you forever: learn to read.
Repeat: learn to read.
I’ll tell you a story and maybe that will help.
Last night, after picking up a colleague from the airport, I went to eat at Mellow Mushroom. After a few minutes, we made up our mind about an order and waited for it to come back. This took a while. To be precise, it took more than 30 minutes. The waitress was polite and came back to check on us and give us updates.
The waitress came back and told me my particular order was slow in coming as the person cooking my food was having a bad day.
This last sentence is the moment that this ability to read comes in. Most people would have passively thought, “Well, okay, but I want my damn food and it’s been forever, so tell him to get over it…” all the while nodding their assent and scrolling through updated statuses from friends. They also would have made a mental note to alter their tip accordingly.
I looked around for a moment and did what a good reader does: acted on what I read.
I walked up to the front counter and asked for a pen and paper. I also asked for my cook’s name. I took a couple of minutes and wrote a note saying that I understood he was having a bad day and that I really hoped that he would feel better after reading my short note. After writing, I felt that the gesture wasn’t complete yet. I thought for a moment… then reached in my pocket and pulled out a $5 bill and attached it to the note. I had the waitress send it back and went back to wait on my meal.
By the time I got to the table, the pizza was waiting and moments later, a person that I had never met sidled up to me and hugged me and said “thank you” a bunch of times and then went back to work. His name was Arthur. He may not remember my name after last night and that’s fine; I think that when you do a kindness, the idea is for the name and person to fade while the effect of the kindness remains. My colleague was speechless.
She asked what I did. When I explained, she was silent for a moment, then asked me where the empathy came from. I didn’t explain it then, but I’ll explain it now for you: I’m a good reader… or at least I like to think so. Most times, situations like this call for some kind of reprimand. I’ve had moments like this where I’ve tipped less and others where I’ve tipped more or wrote a letter or other things like that. Reading means that you take in the facts and let your heart guide the response. Most times, you’re right in feeling how you feel. You don’t have to automatically be angry whenever your order takes longer than expected. Sometimes — most times — kindness is just the thing to kick your customer service experience into high gear.
I’ll make a confession: this isn’t just about how to get good customer service. This is about how to treat people. This is about developing the instincts you need in order to know when to kick someone in the pants and when to give them a hug and when to balance the two and say, “I know how you feel, but I need you to put that aside for a few and push through now. We’ll cry together later.”
If you develop this skill, you’ll have a better… well better life in general.
Learn to read.