The Art of Customer Service: When Everyone Thinks They Are an Artist

I’ve been writing for Forsyth Woman and Forsyth Family magazines for over 11 years. After interviewing hundreds of businesses, and asking the question, “What sets you apart from your competition,” I’ve learned one universal truth… Everyone assumes they have the best customer service.

This observation has actually grown to the point that when I interview business owners now, I phrase the question this way: “Besides your customer service, what makes you different from your competitors?”

And depending on how comfortable I am with the person I’m interviewing, I may go so far as to explain why I don’t want the answer “customer service.” Because here’s the truth – Customer service is like a sense of humor. Everyone thinks they have it, but not everyone does.

What makes people assume they have great customer service? It’s more than just a “because.” That answer may suffice when you’re a frustrated mother telling your child for the umpteenth time that your answer is no… but it’s not going to fly for the American consumer.

When you define your customer service, you have to be willing to define it beyond the generic, overused two words that everyone glazes over when they hear them. Because the impact of the phrase has diminished over time.

In my opinion, if you want to know what great customer service looks like – go to Chick-fil-A. Consistently, Chick-fil-A demonstrates the best customer service, and yet, those are never the words I think of when I go to pick up food.

A little over a year ago, I interviewed the owner of Clemmons, NC Chick-fil-A, and he said something that has stuck with me…. “We hire character and train skills.”

As I continue to ponder the wisdom of those words, it occurs to me that if you want to have stellar, above board customer service, hire character. When you hire character first, customer service becomes a given. Because character drives an individual to try harder and go beyond the first mile, and on to the second. You don’t have to wonder if your employee will be able to handle a difficult situation because you can trust that their character will take the high road.

Even when the customer is wrong and contrary to popular opinion – sometimes they are.

While everyone can draw a stick figure, not everyone’s stick figure is going to look like Picasso’s. If you want your business to stand out, start from the core values, and mean them, then live them. Hire character that reflects it. And make it a part of your operational procedures every single day.