Service that Surprises
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I've had two experiences in the past couple of weeks, which, together, have reminded me of a great customer service lesson.
First, I received a general e-mail that had been sent through our group's website. A gentlemen who our group worked with for a client project more than 15 years ago wanted to send greetings to our group's founder, Chuck Wenger. The client mentioned what an impression Chuck had made on him and mentioned a particular instance when a woman entered the meeting room and Chuck courteously stood to acknowledge her presence and welcome her to the meeting. "What a cool and respectful gentleman," the former client wrote.
Then, I zipped into Culver's the other night for a quick bite. I got up and headed to the soda fountain to refill my drink. There was a gaggle of teenagers around the machine who dispersed as I approached. One young man turned and almost ran into me. He stopped, smiled and said, "Excuse me, sir," before stepping aside to let me pass. It was such an unexpected, courteous gesture that it became a memorable experience for me. I told my wife and have thought of it a couple of times since.
Courtesy is a behavioral art form that has waned in recent generations. Many young people entering the workforce have not been taught to say "please" and "thank you." The act of showing deference to another person, politely excusing yourself, or expressing appreciation can become memorable service moments (that you remember 15 years later) because they are becoming more and more rare in the marketplace and in our culture as a whole.
We could all use a little courtesy and manners coaching. Surprising customers with the simple act of standing when they enter or saying "excuse me, sir" could be all it takes to make your company's service stand out in the crowd.