Customer service not to be faked

By Clyde Davis

Some things simply cannot be faked. They have to be a matter of heart. If there is no heart, there is no way to bluff your way through it.

Sports might be a good example. If you are just putting in an appearance, it shows. If you are playing just for fun, it shows. If you are playing to win, or best of all to excel against yourself, well, that also shows.

Love cannot be faked, either. You may see a million good reasons to respond to someone. The person is attractive, personality plus, obviously enamored of you, and available. It doesn’t matter. That internal response can’t be faked. Not for long, nor very well.

So we get to customer service, a sticking point in the craws of many, which is what provided the genesis for this particular column.

It is possible, just possible, that customer service cannot be faked. It is likely, however, that it can indeed be learned. Or brought out. Customer service can become a priority when one realizes that without customers his or her business does not exist.

Let us take Austin, Texas, for example. One reason my wife Jan and I are looking forward to a return trip to Austin is that, quite simply, the customer service is outstanding; like something you expect to see in a small town.

That means friendly, personal, personable, “we care if you come back,” “we appreciate your business,” kind of service.
Imagine my surprise when a recent magazine showed me that Austin is larger than either Pittsburgh or Cleveland!

We found the same thing to be true in Orlando, Fla., and it is certainly a hallmark of our own state capital. None of these are small towns. They are simply home to an attitude that encourages customer service.

Maybe the secret is that it cannot be faked. It has to be learned or ingrained. My father-in-law was a successful local business man, and one of the joking comments we have, when encountering lackadaisical service hereabouts, is “What would Everett say about that?”

Unfortunately, we have all too many reasons to joke about that.

Ever had the experience of walking into a store and the clerk does not understand what you are looking for? That is OK. What is not OK is when that clerk treats you as if you are dumb because he or she doesn’t understand what you want.

Come on!

How much better it is to visit a store in which you are at least given the freedom to search for it, with guidance to the appropriate part of the store.

Forethought, planning, creativity and a belief that what you are doing is important are all key ingredients to successful customer service.

Maybe the last of these is the key.

Bored employees are less likely to focus on customer service. It’s the same for unrewarded employees.

Customer service can be learned, inspired and encouraged. The only thing it cannot be is ignored.

Clyde Davis is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Portales and an instructor at Eastern New Mexico University. He can be contacted at:
clyde_davis@yahoo.com