Customer Service and My Holiday Experiences

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, and that you are optimistic about the new year, in spite of what the news continues to report.

I had the opportunity to do some shopping over the holidays and had a handful of great experiences, a handful of lousy experiences, and tons of mediocre/neutral experiences. I'm sure you can relate.

What separated the great experiences from the others wasn't anything spectacular or heroic. It was more a matter of employees who truly knew what they were doing, were genuinely friendly while doing it, and who seemed happy to help. That's it - those things made the difference.

I was probably most impressed by Target. I went in to buy a few quick items, expecting a neutral experience. They are a discount retailer, after all, and likely had a lot of temporary workers over the holidays. I was pleasantly surprised by the friendliness and attentiveness of every employee I encountered, and was impressed by the pristine condition of the store even though it was crowded with shoppers. I've never been a regular Target customer, but I will be one now.

Here's how customer service impacts customer loyalty:

  • Poor service - It is likely I will not return, unless I feel the experience was an aberration, in which case I might give the organization one more chance. Or I might return if I simply have no other options.
  • Neutral service - I might return, but more out of convenience than loyalty.
  • Strong service - I will return, but I'll be expecting the same level of service I first experienced.

In the strong service scenario, it may seem daunting that my expectations are now high. But keep in mind what "high" means in my Target example - friendly, knowledgeable, caring employees. It isn't that hard to exceed expectations in today's business world. Since the bulk of customer experiences are either neutral or poor, small touches make a huge difference.

Would your customers describe your employees as friendly, knowledgeable, and caring? Not just some of your employees - all of them?