I’m enjoying a blog called The Daily Blur. It shares insights on customer service. Recently author Steve Rae wrote this: Don’t think you have to create some calculatingly clever, explosively entertaining, and fireworky fantastic customer service ideas.

Simple courtesies go a long way.

Contrast how we were treated on a recent drive to Florida by two companies we dealt with. On the drive, we encountered a car problem that created an opportunity for a hotel to go above and beyond. But they didn’t. As we were checking in, we mentioned that we had car trouble and hoped to have it fixed the next morning. Here was the opportunity they missed.

They could have said: “Can we help get you a rental car?” “Can we recommend a garage nearby that we trust?” “Are you looking for a particular dealership that we can help you find?”

There were any number of things they might have said that would have shown that they cared…even a little bit. Small things, but to us would have meant a lot. Instead, we were disappointed by their stony indifference.

The next morning at the breakfast buffet at this same hotel, they were out of butter. When asked about it, the lady working there said, “It didn’t come in with our shipment, but we might have some by tomorrow.” It’s not like there’s a butter shortage or that there’s no place in the entire city of Cincinnati where you can buy butter. It’s a pretty common item that most people expect to have with their breakfast. So, an employee with just a little gumption would have gone to the convenience store and bought a pound. Again, it’s a little thing, but it would have been shareworthy. Instead, we were again disappointed.

Then I went to The Audi Connection in Cincinnati. I have no affiliation with this company. It was just the closest Audi dealership to where we encountered the problem. I arrived before they were even officially open. They still let me in, and realizing I was anxious to get back on the road, scheduled my car for an immediate diagnostic test to source the problem. After they figured out the issue, they informed me the repair would take a couple of hours.

“Would you like a rental car? Can we suggest a place where you can get breakfast?”

I chose to wait in their waiting area which was equipped with a Keurig machine offering a variety of beverages. Soon after, another employee came by to make sure I had everything I needed and that I was connected to their wi-fi. It didn’t take much, but it meant a lot. And we are not talking about really big things. They probably do it every day for every customer, but that didn’t matter. I felt well looked after with simple courtesies. And that makes their customer service shareworthy.

 It’s a long story, but it illustrates a few points.

  •  Customers hate indifference. If we focus on listening, we will pick up on the threads of the customers’ concerns and respond. So, in the spirit of our recent habit discussion:
    • Cue: Customer speaks.
    • Routine: Listen for what is said and inferred. Respond appropriately.
    • Reward: Our relationship deepens.
  • Common courtesy is becoming uncommon. “Please.” “Thank you.” “What can I do to help?” “Have we done well for you?” Those courtesies are vanishing. Bringing them in will set us apart.
  • Go out for the butter. Rae describes this well. Having no butter is lame. When our systems create shortfalls, take the initiative to solve the problem.