No, YOU Have a Nice Day

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The other day, a human being pretending to be “working” in a customer service capacity told me to have a nice day. Well, actually, it was more of a grunt. And because he didn’t bother looking at me when he grunted it, and was in fact walking away as he finished the grunt, I’m kind of connecting the dots here. But I am pretty confident that on some guttural, primordial level, I was told by this individual to have a nice day.

So. Do you think he really meant it?!

Let’s understand each other. It’s not that I really need customer service people to tell me to “have a nice day.” I’m as aware as anyone else that this is a cliché and, just like the “how are you,” is not really full of deep, rich, interpersonal meaning anymore.

BUT.

When even the basic *building blocks* of communication aren’t in place, I get irritated. And then I think: this company sucks.

Is that harsh? I don’t think so. This particular company actually has many layers of customer service; they even have a dedicated toll-free customer service line that, to my knowledge, is staffed by people and not voicemail. And this company also spends a great deal of money and time to promote its customer service systems and policies. I even think they have one of those c-level “Customer Experience Officer” positions.

Yet despite all of this, they can’t seem to “get it” at the most basic level. And if you can’t get it at the basic level, you can’t get it at any other level, since basic is basic.

Here’s what I’d like you to think about, please. As my little experience (hey, no height jokes!) illustrates, customer service really isn’t some giant “conceptual thing” that is about how many reps you have or how much money you spend on promoting customer service commitments.

It’s about the basics. It’s the little things. It’s about telling people to “have a nice day,” and actually meaning it; or at the very least, looking at them in the eye and smiling (or, at least not frowning).

It’s time for customer service to learn a very valuable lesson from quality assurance; notably, the Japanese concept of incremental quality improvements (“kaizen”). Don’t wait for some big booming voice from the sky to tell you that you’ve “achieved customer service” — and don’t be lulled into thinking that just because you talk about it, and have posters that promote it, and include it in your training, that it’s actually HAPPENING.

Build and integrate customer service in very small, ordinary ways.

Including when your reps tell people to “have a nice day.” If they can’t do something that simple, that ordinary, and that ACCESSIBLE, then all of the planning and training and Customer Experience Officers in the world aren’t going to do much.

Have a nice day

3 COMMENTS

  1. Adrian – I know what you mean and I’m with you. It’s so important for companies to work with and encourage their employees to empathize with the customer. Some firms do this by making giving their employees the opportunity to be customers and experience the customer experience first hand. In June, I posted on Forrester’s Marketing Blog about an experience I had after my wallet was stolen. Among other things, when I called my financial institutions, they typically greeted me with a super chipper, “How are you today?” Of course I was terrible, my wallet was stolen. They topped that off with a, “Now you have a nice day!” when the call was over. American Express was the only institution that actually said, “Are you ok?” What a difference that little tweak made for me.

    ELANA ANDERSON
    Marketing Strategy Consultant
    NxtERA Marketing
    [email protected]

    http://www.nxteramarketing.com

  2. Adrian

    You mentioned the little things. What are the little things? How do we make those little things count?

    Daryl Choy, the founder of Touchpoint eXperience Management, helps firms make a difference at every touchpoint. Choy can be reached at wisdomboom.blogspot.com.

  3. Thanks Daryl and good questions. The “little things” are those things that we ALL want—to be respected, understood and welcomed. You would think…or want to think….that all companies want to do this for their customers. But unfortunately this is not so because while many companies talk the talk, very many do not follow-through and deliver on customer expectations. So what are these little things? Well, on the most fundamental level, a sincere and honest smile and greeting should be the bare bones of deliverables. Ratchet it up a notch and you can throw in some eye contact and body language that says, “hey let me try and help you”. And then, let’s get crazy and stop nickel and diming customers every time they have to do something (think Zappos and their totally awesome free shipping policy). How about providing those customner appreciation rewards in a user friendly fashion and not make it an onerous task to try to use some of these points and rewards (you know who you are out there in the skies). Service and sales reps that say “we appreciate your business” when you finish a transaction would knock my socks off as well. See it really is little things and they don’t sap revenues but, in fact, can provide for results that fall squarely to the bottom-line. And, we don’t have to try to make them count. They do count. What we have to do is make certain that everyone in the company, top-down and all through the ranks, totally embrace this ethic and are prepared to deliver the message in every transaction be it over the web, in-person or on the telephone. Without the channel consistency it just isn’t as effective.

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