“Give every person more in use value than you take from them in cash value.” – Wallace Wattles
I read a story recently discussing how the automatic gratuity for large parties (usually six to eight or more) at restaurants was going to be done away with by the these businesses. For those curious, I believe the reason had to do with some changes in IRS tax laws that would require those wages to be counted as income subject to payroll taxes by the employer. Essentially, the server would now see these automatic gratuities on their paychecks, instead of at the end of the night. (If someone can explain this or the rationale behind it better than I did, please feel free to share with everyone else.)
I only mention this in relation to this quote because I believe that the servers who seek to provide more use value in their interactions with the customers who attend their restaurants will perform at a level beyond the percentage any automatic gratuity would be. In my experience, many servers hide behind the gratuity guarantee and their service reflects that. They already know that they are going to receive automatic money, and therefore tend to take that for granted in the level of service that they provide.
Customer service is of a dying breed in America. So much so, that when we receive great customer service, it really stands out. It is no longer the norm.
I think what we fail to understand is that we are all involved in customer service on a daily basis. The term “customer” comes in various shapes and sizes. They come in the form of clients, customers, family, friends, players, students, passengers, etc. Every interaction is essentially a customer service interaction.
To excel in customer service, we must understand that it is about developing relationships and building connections. It is not about the product or outcome. That is solely focusing in the cash value, or the transaction. But, true customer service is more than that.
We all share stories about the times we receive terrible customer service. Sometimes, it is so bad that we refuse to shop at a particular establishment, purchase a particular product, or speak with that particular person again. It seems like the common theme among these interactions is that the server/representative/individual failed to gain an appreciation for what the needs of the other person. Common complaints included that a person was rude, not attentive, only in it for the sale, dismissive of their requests, forcing a product on them, among many other things.
Now, think about all the times, we have had great customer service. What are the common qualities? The person is usually attentive and polite, builds a connection or rapport with the other, finds products or services that meet the actual stated needs of the individual, and listens.
Doesn’t that seem like a much better way to conduct business? Shouldn’t this be the norm? Then, why does the good moment seem so fleeting and stand out so much?
I would like to share a story that I experienced just this past week.
My plane arrived in Dallas at 7:20am CST on Thursday morning. I had not done much pre-trip planning to figure out how to get from the airport to my hotel. Every other airport I had been in always had a shuttle or something really simple (like an information booth or something) to guide me. I realized quickly that wasn’t the case at Dallas-Fort Worth. After asking several people, I finally figured out a few steps to get me near the correct vicinity. When I found the bus that I thought was to take me straight to my hotel, I approached it and asked the bus driver if I was on the right path. When I explained where I was going and that it was my first time in Dallas, my bus driver, Alan, proceeded to go above and beyond. He set expectations and then explained exactly where I would have to go. He spoke with me and took an interest in why I was there. Then, once we arrived at my transfer spot, Alan got out of the bus and walked me to the next transfer spot. When he found out that bus had left only minutes prior and the next bus would not be coming for an hour, he, not wanting me to wait an hour in the cold, ran to a few other stops in the station to find out exactly which one I could take to get me where I needed to be.
The cash value of this interaction to Alan was the hourly wage (probably not all that high) that he was making while driving his daily shift. To me, it was the $2.00 fare that I had to pay to ride. But, the actual value I received from that lengthy bus ride was more than I could have ever expected. I will now measure every bus ride with the level of service Alan gave me. While that probably is not fair for many, Alan did not have to do this for me. He could have never asked me a question and left me to fend for myself. He took an interest and gave me a feeling of ease and comfort that I would arrive safely at my hotel.
We could all strive to make our interactions more like Alan. We could all put more value in our discussions and conversations with others by caring about the people with whom we are speaking. My challenge to you today is to be more like Alan.
Everyone, including you, will benefit.
Bring your best today!