Posted on July 22, 2008 by Dennis Snow
What a difference a caring employee makes. You can observe two employees doing the identical job, but one is creating great customer experiences while the other employee just goes through the motions.
A recent client arranged for a Town Car service to take me from the airport to the convention hotel and then back to the airport the next day. It was a fairly long ride, about two hours, but it was through beautiful countryside so I didn't mind.
The driver who picked me up at the airport was wonderful. She had a chilled bottle of water waiting in the car along with a fresh copy of the local newspaper and the Wall Street Journal. She asked if I had been in that part of the country before (I had) and off we went. I appreciated her smooth and comfortable driving style with no fast accelerations or quick applications of the brakes. I felt safe.
She made the ride pleasant by sharing information about the areas we drove through, while always gauging my interest based on my responses and questions. Along the way I had to do a bit of computer work and she respected my need for quite during that time. The only time she interrupted was at the half-way point to ask if I needed a restroom break; which I did.
Dropping me off at the hotel, the driver was complimentary about their facilities and sincerely wished me luck on my presentation. It was a great customer service experience.
The return to the airport was another story. Same Town Car company; different driver; very different experience. The driver greeted me in a disinterested manner and put my bags in the car. He then proceeded to accelerate the car like Mario Andretti accelerating out of Indianapolis Speedway's pit row, throwing me back in my seat. We were off on what proved to be a nerve-wracking ride to the airport with quick starts, stops, and lane changes. I certainly wasn't going to get any work done on that ride.
To make things a bit more comfortable I tried to make some light conversation, but his manner clearly indicated there would be no chit chat. And there was no offer of a restroom break at the half-way point - I had to ask for one. We arrived at the airport, he put my bags on the curb, and drove off as I stood there wondering what had happened to make him so bitter.
I share this story because it demonstrates the behaviors that differentiate great service from poor service:
Accuracy - The first driver was a good driver and she immediately made me feel safe. The second driver was an erratic, aggressive driver, who made me wonder if I would make it safely to my destination. Being good at the job technically is a vital part of customer service.
Responsiveness - The first driver was talkative when it was appropriate, and was also quiet during the time I needed to do some work. She was responsive to the moment-by-moment needs of her customer. The second driver, on the other hand, was simply performing the task of getting his customer from Point A to Point B. Being genuinely responsive to the customer demonstrates a willingness to move beyond simply completing a transaction.
Care - The first driver is clearly a professional who cares about her customers. She made the trip interesting and wowed me with little details like the bottle of water, the fresh newspapers, and the offer of a restroom stop. The second driver only cared about finishing his shift and listening to the radio (his choice of station, not mine).
Accuracy, Responsiveness, and Care. Those three little words, when translated into action, make all the difference. One driver saw her role as an ambassador of the Town Car company and of her community, while the second driver saw his role as a driver.
Same job, but a completely different experience.