Respect is the Foundation of Customer Service

 photo source: The Randolph County Historical Society

Customer service begins at home, especially when your family runs a small-town hotel.

“My grandparents used to own the Randolph Hotel (formerly the Globe Hotel) in Moberly, MO and that’s where my dad learned an important business lesson,” said StorageMart President Cris Burnam. “You might say it left an impression on him because it was the only time he remembers getting spanked! His mom saw him walk through the lobby without greeting any customers or making any eye contact. It was a mistake he never made again!”

“After his spanking, his mom reminded him, ‘Always be polite, smile, and shake hands with our customers — these are the people who are feeding us!’ That story has always stuck with me,” Burnam said. “It’s a lesson we could all use, no matter what side of the counter we are standing.”

Successful business people know that the best referral or review is often the result of one employee treating one customer well, like the Nordstrom employee who cheerfully gave a refund to man who brought in two used tires to his store without a receipt. If the retail giant had been a tire dealer that would have been good business but Nordstrom’s didn’t even sell tires! “That salesperson used great judgment,” said Blake Nordstrom, company president. “He treated the customer like he would like to be treated.”

Most businesses would like to provide epic customer service – so what are the basics for creating a customer service mindset?

1. Empathize

Empathy in business is about connecting with customers’ feelings. A mechanic provides a necessary oil change. An empathetic mechanic completes the service and acknowledges that a customer may feel annoyed while waiting. There’s not always an easy answer but a little compassion goes a long way in building trust with customers.

2. Prepare

Anticipate what customers want and provide it for them! Put yourself in your customer’s shoes ask yourself what would make you happy. After a long day of traveling, people checking into a hotel want a key to a clean room as fast as possible. Great hotels have registration down to a science, making the first few minutes a pleasant experience.

But what if the hotel’s computer crashes and there are three more people ahead of you? A good employee will apologize for the problem. A great employee would also offer you a seat and a complimentary beverage and newspaper, or perhaps a meal at their restaurant. There’s always an opportunity to serve others because great customer service comes from the heart, not just the head.

3. Clean

“Clean” shows respect for yourself and others around you. “Cleanliness puts people at ease, particularly when trust is involved. People trust us to store their belongings,” Burnam said, “which is why we make such a strong commitment to cleanliness.” Cleanliness is the easiest way to show customers that you are ready to do business with them.