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Good customer service is when…

Good customer service is when…

Time to Read: Time to read 90 seconds

Good service is when…

Good customer service is how the customer is treated when things go wrong.

Too many customer service training initiatives concentrate on following a process for how things should proceed, and too few on what happens when events go outside of that process. In this age of Amazon, First Direct and your favourite, outstanding supplier, great service is not about when things go smoothly, it is about how you are treated as a customer when things go wrong.

When this happens from your – the customer point of view – my key piece of advice is to stay focused on the outcome you want. A very tough one!

A recent personal example – for some reason our waste/recycling provider didn’t collect our food bin or ‘small electricals’ and so I duly completed their online form and each time received a message that they would be collected on the following day – after this had gone on for five days I called them.

Stay focused on the outcome I said to myself throughout the following exchange:

After being put on hold for several minutes – listening to Brahms 3rd symphony, or it might have been the sex pistols, a friendly voice answered:

“Hello, sorry to keep you waiting – my name is Mike (name changed), how may I help you?”

“Oh, hi Mike, my name is David Taylor, and I wanted to report that my food bin and recycling hasn’t been collected, I received a message saying they would be collected tomorrow.”

Mike: “Oh, they are just automated messages.”

Me (now wavering away from my Outcome advice): “Might I respectfully suggest that you change them if…”

Mike: “Oh we can’t do that we have no control over them.”

Me: “OK, Mike, do you know when my bin will be emptied and recycling collected?”

Mike: “I am looking at the system now and yes they are down to be collected.”

Me: “Great – do you know when?”

Mike: “No, we have a backlog at the moment so I can’t give you a date.”

Me: “Can you give me any kind of range – 1 day, 3 days? then I can take them in until that date.”

Mike: “No, it’s nothing to do with us that’s down to the crews to decide.”


Me: “(Focus on the outcome) – “So that will probably be next Friday then, normal collection day.”

Mike: “I couldn’t say – your guess is as good as mine.”

Me: “OK, thanks Mike.”

Call ends.

So, what to do when things go wrong with your customer – how can you turn a lemon into a lemonade, and turn a customer around?

1. Take ownership – nothing is more cathartic for your customer than someone saying “Hi, my name is Laura and I will take personal ownership of this until it is resolved.”

2. You have their attention, and you have the two ingredients you need for delicious “lemonade” – their emotions are high, and their expectations of what you can deliver are low, rock bottom.

3. Surprise them – do something that gobsmacks them, way over and way, way above what they would have expected, and what they thought you were capable of. It need not cost a lot, it may take time, and it is worth it. For example I left a shirt at the Fairmont Hotel in Abu Dhabi – I didn’t call as I put it down to my fault and not worth asking them to look for it. It arrived at my home 3 days later, before I had got back, cleaned and pressed.


They will talk about it with everyone they meet, and you will have a loyal customer for life.

With my love and best wishes to you all



One Response to Good customer service is when…

  1. Hi David

    Couldn’t agree more – Having just dealt with two complaints within a week from a customer visiting the same site and not having the experience they expected and deserved.

    Bins obviously not collected by Veolia!

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