The importance of good customer service *

Customer service: whether you’ve been on the giving or the receiving end of it, all of us, at some point or another have experienced it. More often than not, we’ll go about our daily tasks and not give a second thought to it. In and out of shops, cafes or making phone calls, it rarely leaves much of an impact. Until we have a particularly good or an unfortunately bad experience, that’s when suddenly, we realise the importance of customer service on our day to day life.

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Like a lot of people, I’ve worked in a few customer service based roles in the past. I worked in Primark for a year (which was quite an experience) and I was also an Optical Assistant in Vision Express for a while, too. In both of these jobs, I dealt with the public. Probably more so in Vision Express where I had to really liaise with customers, talk to them, help them choose frames and lenses and go through their options. That job was one where good customer service was essential to the customers experience there and I always tried my best to honor that.

I was fairly good at it. I think. But I doubt anyone came away from the store after sitting with me and thought that it was exceptional customer service.

But we all know how it feels to experience good, if not exceptional customer service. It can change your entire experience of a shop or a business. It can even improve your entire day! Just like having a bad experience can cause that red mist to form for the next 4 hours.

What I think makes good customer service:

  • Politeness – I know this is just common decency but nobody wants to come face-to-face with a rude shop assistant!
  • A smile – A simple smile goes a long way sometimes!
  • A greeting – I think it’s nice when a shop assistant or anyone in a customer service role says hello when you come in. As opposed to just ignoring you, of course!
  • Listening – and not talking over you. You can tell when someone is really listening to what you need.
  • A genuine apology – when you need one. You can really tell when a person customer service means their apology if someone has gone wrong on their side of things.

I took to Twitter because I wanted to find out what other people’s best customer service experiences were!

@hannahdolledup: “Due to some shockingly poor service from Northern Rail (surprise) we ended up missing what we thought was the last train to a London airport. It was mine and my fiances first holiday together and we were poor kids, so in a last ditch attempt to get ourselves on holiday, we spoke to a man at the Virgin counter at Manchester Piccadilly. He said the best he could do was discount our paid tickets off the full price of the new train, leaving us with about £100 extra to pay. I was tired and cranky and upset, and burst out crying because we’d have to dip in to our holiday spends. We paid, and went to get some food. Next thing we know, there’s a bunch of commotion and our descriptions are being read out over the tannoy. My fiance went to the Virgin counter, and came back 5 mins later with a different man. Turns out the man at the desk had found the train conductor, and told him what had happened, the conductor decided to refund the full price of our tickets and sit us in first class! He chatted to us for most of the train journey and told us stories about his kids, and when we got to London, he got on to the tannoy and wished us a happy holiday in front of the whole train. Small acts of kindness from 2 employees helped me and my fiance out big time and gave us possibly the most memorable holiday of our lives

@itsjademarie: “Me and Chris went to our regular Frankie & Benny’s and I decided to order something different (the hot dog) but unfortunately it set my IBS off so I didn’t eat more than a few bites of the meal. When the server came over she asked if anything had been wrong with the food and I explained why I’d not been able to eat it. When she came back with our bill she explained she’d not changed me for my meal as I’d not been able to eat it!”

@KellieHailes: Over a decade ago I entered a clothing store determined to try on skinny jeans just to see how horrible I looked in them. I was greeted with a smile, a ‘how are you’, and a ‘can I help?’. I found myself mentioning said skinny jeans and next thing you know I was whisked into a changing room. Jeans were passed to me. Followed by tops. More jeans. More tops. Instructions were given on how best to wear skinny jeans, and what to wear on top to avoid the dreaded muffin. I walked out that day with a bag bulging with two pairs of jeans I didn’t think I could pull off, as well as a couple of tops. My bank account was lighter, but my confidence was sky high – all because one amazing woman took the time to take customer service to the next level.”

@adventureanx: “We went to Five Guys for the first time where my husband ordered chips before realizing he couldn’t have them cause of the peanut oil. Unfortunately they somehow accidentally got left on the bill so we paid for them. The manager actually realised before we did, not only refunded his whole meal but personally apologized and gave us a voucher for another free meal. I was pretty impressed that she cared that much!”

This post is in collaboration with CCSN, www.contactcustomerservicenumbers.co.uk, who recently did some research into what people think about customer service. In a survey of 600 participants, 75% of those agreed that good customer service is a vital part of dealing with a business. CCSN created this interesting and helpful infographic to document their findings:

I would absolutely love to hear about your own good (or bad!) customer service experiences. The more extreme the better! But honestly, any will do! We all need to learn to praise good customer service more often so let’s spread some positive stories below!

* This is a collaborative post with CCSN. 
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24 thoughts on “The importance of good customer service *

  1. I don’t recall having any particularly bad customer service experiences, but I always find it quite rude when assistants overhear me and my mum speaking Russian and automatically raise their voice, speak really slowly, repeat random words and use weird hand gestures – I understand that they are trying to be helpful, but it does come across as quite patronising because both of us are perfectly capable of speaking English! Loved this post and all the stories included, and couldn’t agree more that good customer service can really improve one’s day and make them use the business again!

  2. Your post reminds me of the importance of customer service in schools, and school libraries. I worked in schools and knew nothing about customer service until I went to work in a public library. I then realised how important it is in schools, and how lacking it was when I worked in schools. I then realised some of the worst service I received when calling businesses in my role at the public library were schools! I am now back in a school library and really focus on my customer service with my students and staff, it makes a difference!

  3. Pingback: The Importance of good customer service – SEO

  4. I work in a shop and I always try and be helpful and pleasant. It can be so off putting when you go into a shop and staff are rude. One thing I always remember when my older son was about 2 and potty training, I went into a sandwich shop (pretty well known) he was desperate for the toilet. Asked them politely if he could quickly use toilet and the member of staff was quite rude and abrupt and refused unless I bought something, know he was probably following rules but it was the way he spoke to me, left me a bit embarrassed in front of customers in there x

    Emma x http://www.bookinggoodread.com

  5. Good customer service is so crucial! I recently bought a product on Amazon that broke within two weeks, and I left a one-star review. Within hours I’d been contacted by the company with an offer of a refund or replacement. When I compare that to delivery companies where 4 or 5 customer service advisers have told me blatant lies it makes such a huge difference to how I view the entire experience. A broken product with good customer service is better than a working product with bad service, honestly! I’ve always worked in customer-facing roles so I can’t stand when people are rude.
    Beth x Adventure & Anxiety

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