What is Outstanding Customer Service?

March 17/14 —

We are all customers at one time or another and we all would prefer to receive exceptional customer service. What is exceptional service and do we recognize it when we see it? I believe it has something to do with exceeding customer expectations.

One such experience recently happened to me. I was sitting with special friends on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii, eating lunch and watching the powerful waves crash onto the shore. I was sipping on my favourite beverage and about to eat one of my favourite foods – shrimp!

I admit this is not my normal experience and I was receptive to all positive things around me. You would have had to stick me with a fork to shake me out of my positive frame of mind. In this near nirvana state, I became very aware of a special customer service experience going on around me.

I was sitting at Bubba Gump’s restaurant in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii. Bubba Gump’s prides itself on customer service. For those of you who have never been there, they have a two-sided sign on every table – one side in blue says “Run Forrest Run” while the other side in red states “Stop Forrest Stop.” If you flip the sign to “Stop Forrest Stop,” it is uncanny how fast a server appears at your table. This is a great gimmick and one that offers great service.

This day, however, it was not the wonderful ambience that caught my eye. It was Devra – our server. This day, Devra was working alongside a new employee who was in training. I suspect in a lot of restaurants serving staff receive little or no training but not at Bubba Gumps.

I did not follow these two around but it was impossible not to hear some of their conversations when they were close by. Devra appeared to be the epitome of patience and a positive role model as she gently passed along information and tips to the new recruit. Devra is the kind of mentor we would all like to have.

She was neither condescending nor abrupt. She answered questions in an upbeat and friendly manner. She passed along tips as if she was sharing the most wonderful secret.

“When you ask someone a question, smile,” she told her attentive recruit. “People like to see others smile!” How simple yet poignant advice to offer. And this was not phony behaviour. Devra liked her job, liked to meet new people, and honestly seemed to care that her customers had a positive experience.

I asked Devra to take a picture of everyone at our table which she did so willingly and she happily posed with her new recruit so I could take a picture of them.

I know she had other customers both during and after our visit but Devra had that magic touch to make her customers feel like they were special and unique.

The experience was wonderful and as I gladly handed over my money I thought of how important attitude is when connecting with people. Devra has that wonderful positive attitude which is infectious. She is a prize, and no doubt she has provided countless numbers of customers with a similar wonderful experience. She could work in my company any day!

John Hindle, The Contact Hitter, john@johnhindle.com

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