The lightbulb moment happened in a convenience store.
I had gone in to buy a Coke on a hot summer day. As I approached the counter, I noticed everything about the cashier's body language suggested he didn't want to be there. His shoulders were slumped forward, he looked disheveled, and had a bored expression on his face.
The cashier was ignoring customers as he heated a burrito in the store's microwave.
You've probably experienced this same scene yourself. What the cashier was doing versus what he ought to have been doing was easy to see. But that won't change the basic fact that the cashier wasn't acting like Mr. Customer Service.
My lightbulb went off when I realized he probably felt exactly like I did—tired, hot, and a little unhappy to be there.
We've all been in that position. Sometimes, a little jolt is all we need to get back on track. That's why I was buying that cold, refreshing Coke. I decided to give the cashier a jolt as well.
I put on a big smile and greeted the cashier in my friendliest voice, "How's it going?!"
Service Tips for Customers
The cashier's demeanor instantly changed.
He looked as if a weight had literally been lifted off his shoulders. He approached the cash register, broke into a smile, and greeted me in return. The rest of that very short transaction was pleasant.
The experience helped me realize that customer service works best when both the customer and the employee are on the same wavelength. Sure employees are supposed to be friendly and helpful, but they're also human.
And humans sometimes have bad days.
It occurred to me that we could get better customer service if we used some of the same skills we want customer service professional to use. So I created a series of exercises to test this out.
- Make the first move (what I did in the convenience store)
- Introduce yourself to share your name with people who serve you
- Empathize with the people who serve you
I started to try out these techniques and they worked! Employees were friendlier, I started getting "extras" more often, and problems become easier to solve. These techniques don't work 100% of the time, but I noticed I received good service more often.
The New Training Video
Many years later, I now have the chance to share some of my favorite techniques in my new LinkedIn Learning training video. The course reveals essential skills you can use to get great customer service.
The content is broken down into three main categories:
- Build relationships
- Earn extraordinary service
- Solve problems
Best of all, you can build your own customer service skills while completing these exercises. Here's a short preview:
The new course marks the release of my 19th training video. You can access all of those courses on LinkedIn Learning or Lynda.com or learn more about how you can leverage the power of training videos here.