The Magic of a Child's Perspective

Trinity and MeA while back my six-year-old granddaughter, Trinity, asked her dad an out-of-the-blue question about me. She asked, “What’s Papa’s job?” (I love that my grandkids call me Papa.) Trinity knew that her mom and dad both had jobs, but how do you explain the job of a customer experience speaker, trainer and consultant to a six-year-old? Her dad thought about it and then said, “Papa teaches people how to be nice to each other.” To which Trinity, in all her childhood innocence replied, “Shouldn’t people already know how to be nice to each other?” 

As a grandfather, my heart just melted when my son shared that story with me. I mean, how cute is that? But then I thought about it further and realized it really was a legitimate question. People SHOULD already know how to be nice to each other.

Thinking about Trinity’s question from a business perspective, the next question is: Why is good customer service so rare and poor customer service so common? We know how we like to be treated when we’re the customer, so why does that sometimes fly out the window when we’re interacting with our own customers? I think it boils down to one of three reasons:

  1. We feel overwhelmed. It seems like there’s no end to the work that needs to be done and we could get it done if it weren’t for these pesky customers. We’re just too busy to be nice.

  2. We feel that customers expect too much. Customers today are just too demanding and unreasonable.

  3. We feel that all customers really care about is price. They want the world, but don’t want to pay for it. I can be as nice as can be, but they’ll go across the street for a cheaper price.

While we might feel that these reasons are legitimate, they’re really just excuses for giving mediocre or even poor service. And I believe we can turn each of these excuses on its head just by changing our perspective. 

For example, it’s NEVER too busy to smile at a customer, provide a friendly greeting and a fond farewell. Most “nice” behaviors take no more time than a less-than-nice approach. 

And I feel quite confident in stating that most customers do NOT expect too much. In general, customer service is so bad that if you just get the basics right, like making customers feel welcome rather than tolerated, you move to the front of the customer service pack. 

And yes, customers do care about price. Most people have a price threshold. But all of the latest research shows that in most cases, the quality of the experience trumps price

So, going back to my granddaughter’s innocent question, “Shouldn’t people already know how to be nice to each other?” Yes, we all know how to be nice. But we need to be present and respectful if we want our customers to perceive us as being nice or helpful. We have to demonstrate nice behaviors if we want to be perceived as “nice.” 

Here’s something to think about: What does good customer service look like and sound like in your organization? How consistently are you delivering that level of service?