"What is good customer service?"

Ah, the age-old question.

Scratching Head!Credit: http://pocketnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/bush-scratching-head.jpg

The mystery has confounded humanity for as long as historians have been able to document the confusion, and probably earlier, too.  What does this phrase mean?  Service to customers?  Living in servitude of customers?  Customising a service?  Well, I think it's harder to truly define what customer service IS, than to highlight what it absolutely is NOT:

"So, what is good customer service?"

Good customer service is when you, the customer, are waiting to beserved, and the worker behind the counter is talking to another colleague.  It is polite for the customer to wait until the server has finished their conversation and is ready to serve you.  Often the server may want to go to the toilet, have a cigarette break or simply not do anything for a while before they are ready to serve you.  Just wait until the server is ready to acknowledge your presence.

Handy Tip #1

It is highly advisable not to try and get the server's attention by
going *cough cough* or saying, "Excuse me!"  Remember, if a customer
does interrupt a worker's conversation with another co-worker, you are
disrupting them at their workplace and it is considered rude.

"Tell me again - what is it?"

Good customer service occurs when you ring a restaurant to make a booking two months in advance in an attempt to be diligent, and they tell you over the phone that you don't need to make a booking as they can always fit you in.  You can really feel the great customer service when you get to the restaurant two months later and they tell you that there won't be any tables free for about an hour, but they suggest you can get a drink at the bar.  Oh, but all the stools are full so you'll have to stand at the moment.  "Why didn't you make a booking?" the waiter may ask.  This is when you can REALLY feel the customer service excellence, just oozing all over you.

"Hang on ... this service thing is what, exactly?"

When you say, "Hello," to the person behind the counter and the worker replies with, "Good thanks, yourself?"  When you are made to feel like financial transaction No. 726 - that is great customer service, indeed.

"Oh ... so ... sorry, what is good service?!"

When a restaurant has a free drink offer with any main meal purchase, and you, the choosy customer, can't eat any of the main meals because of 'alllergic reactions' that you 'apparently' experience, and so you instead purchase two entrees which amount to a spend of more money than a single main ... but the server refuses to give you a free drink as, plain and simple, "You didn't purchase a main meal, sir."  Oh well, as least they showed respect by calling you 'sir'.  Oh wait, you're a woman.  Nevermind!  They probably think you are a man because of your ravenous appetite!  What's that?!  "You're ordering two entrees (Cobb loaf at a 300% markup and oysters at a 150% markup) for $25 AND you'd like a complimentary drink as advertised in the local paper, even though you haven't ALSO bought a $15 main meal?"  You're right.  Written out like that, I can clearly see this is a wonderful example of good customer service inaction.  Oops, I mean 'in action'.

Handy Tip #2

Don't be offended when a staff member rolls their eyes at you.  They are not being disrespectful, they are just signalling to you that it isn't their job to help you, that you're expecting way too much from them and you aren't actually doing them any favours by giving their company your hard-earned cash.

"I'm so confused!!  What the heck is the definition?"

When you buy a burger from McDonald's, and then feel parched in the throat, and decide you would like a cup of water.  So, you go back to the store you just exited and the front-counter operator tells you it will be $0.50 for the water, and you argue that charging for a necessity of life is pretty low - but even if you finally said to them that you accepted it was company policy to charge people for water (to perhaps stop them just coming in to get free water), but that you, the customer, had actually purchased a meal from the outlet barely minutes ago, but they still refuse to give you a cup of water for anything less than 50 cents ... that is definitely what I'm talking about :).  Good work, Maccas!

Handy Tip #3

There is nothing wrong with companies charging for tap water.  It is a significant cost to the business, and no matter how regular of a customer you are, or how much word-of-mouth and foot traffic you generate to their business, or how much you spend at their company, no customer deserves free water.  Just accept it, everyone.

You know what it is.  I know what it is.  If you own a business - point this stuff out to your staff.  If you work for the company - highlight it to your colleagues and supervisor.  If you're a customer - don't be okay with this behaviour.  Say something.

For instance, if you say "Hi!" to a waiter or storeperson and they say, "Good thanks, yourself?", say back: "I didn't ask you how you are."  Sure, maybe it's a tad rude but they are being rude in the first place.  And they'll definitely become conscious of it the next time.

If you work behind the counter of a cafe or restaurant, and you ask a customer how they are today, and they reply with a grumpy, "Short black.", I would strongly encourage that you say to them: "You feel short black today?!  Wow, that's amazing. What would you like to order?"  Say it with a smile and see what they say. No, it's not normal.  But I don't WANT to be promoting, standing for or accepting these horrible 'normal' customer service scenarios that happen across the world, every single day.

If businesses were more vigilant about stopping these behaviours, and customers were less complacent about them, too ... we would start to collectively improve our planet's service standards.  We - that's all stakeholders - should aim for exceptional customer service.