What is your experience of customer service? Why are we so surprised when we have a transformational customer service experience? Unfortunately, we usually experience transactional customer service to the point where it has become expected. Here is what happened to me on the way to a customer service speaking engagement earlier this week.
At precisely 11.10 am, I walked into an “On the Run” Tim Hortons location in Markham, Ontario to be “greeted” by two people behind the counter who did not utter one word during the transaction, except to ask for payment. I knew that both were capable of speaking, as I heard them talking to each other as I approached the counter. Then it seemed that they lost the ability to communicate verbally and were completely disinterested in interacting with anyone except themselves.
Why does this matter, you may ask? “It was just a cup of coffee”. It matters significantly because these are impressions that stay in the minds of customers for years, not days or months. Research confirms that the memory of an experience like this stays with us for over 23.5 years. I was not the only person to experience a transactional act of service. The entire line-up behind me received the same, expressionless interface. Every encounter like this one is a moment of truth that has the potential to be either meaningful, meaningless or magical.
We are all someone’s customer on a daily basis and we have memories like elephants when it comes to customer service. The simple gesture of a smile and at the very least “hello” is an expectation, let alone a requirement, in a service role. It takes 43 muscles to frown and only 17 to smile. Therefore, giving your face a gentler workout can benefit many people! To the ladies serving coffee as well as owners of the “On the Run” store who will probably never read this blog, your customers are watching. For all of us who realize that every day we have the opportunity to be “of service” to others, let’s create transformational rather than transactional human contact. If for no other reason, it makes the 24 hours we all have in a day more enjoyable.
PS: See this great article on Coffee Culture in Australia: Note comments from readers