Customer Service

Customer Service

I am a fanatic about customer service. Having been in the restaurant and bar business for over a decade, I came to set and expect standards. This is great for our clients. Hopefully, every one of them gets great customer service that exceeds their expectations. But likewise, with our own suppliers, clients, as well as in my personal life, I have a certain level of expectation. It is high, but achievable.

Surprise! Most often, that level of expectation is not met. It may be a server in a restaurant who is more interested in when their shift ends than providing exceptional customer service, but still wants a 15% or more tip for lousy service. Or perhaps it is someone in business who explains how they need a proposal or information ASAP and emails, texts, and reaches out through social media all within 15 minutes about this urgent need. But then, when you deliver on their timeline to fit their needs, it takes 10+ emails and phone calls before they even respond to you (and then admit they still have not presented the information they asked for). Or perhaps it is a letter carrier you have asked several times not to cut across your lawn but walk around—and they still do it. I could go on as I am sure you could with scads of examples of customer service not meeting expectations. But today, I want to talk about the other end of the scale.

It does not happen very often, but it does happen. And in a case like this, I want to share an example of exceptional customer service. It blew me away. I made sure my 13-year-old daughter understood that this was exceptional service and why, and that it is the standard all should deliver every time. My wife, daughter, and I were in Victoria recently for a sport activity (surprise) for my daughter. While there, we learned of a friend who was in the hospital, so we decided to go by and visit him. We couldn’t go in empty handed, and plants and flowers probably were not his thing, so we decided on balloons. Off to the Dollar Store we went to get a helium “get well soon” balloon.

Specifically, we went to the Your Dollar Store with More in Langford because it was close to the recreation centre and near the hospital. We let them know what we were looking for and why. It was amazing! Here are just some of the actions/elements that made their service so outstanding.

  • They greeted us when we walked in and asked if we needed help finding anything (in an enthusiastic and sincere tone, not that “I was forced to greet you and ask you if you needed help” tone).
  • They showed us several places where balloons for helium filling were showcased.
  • They asked if the sick person was in the hospital (seemed like a weird question) and we said that he was.
  • They then asked if we knew if that hospital ward/section would allow latex balloons, because if not, we should obviously not buy latex balloons.
  • They explained that many hospital wards will not allow such balloons, so we would be buying one and not be able to give it to our friend—a waste of our money.
  • We said we had no idea and had never been to the hospital before. Actually, we were not even sure where it was since we were from out of town.
  • They, yes, they phoned the hospital, were on hold a couple of times, got the answers they needed, and let us know—no latex. (All the really cool balloons are latex, so our friend had to settle for a less cool balloon.)
  • This saved us money, grief, and disappointment—amazing service.
  • Our daughter wanted a helium balloon as well. She selected the one she wanted. As you may know, you can have your balloon lined with a product they spray inside before filling with helium. It makes the balloon last much longer. (I almost always get this add on.) The clerk, though, asked my daughter if she liked to suck out the helium when it was getting old and then speak an octave or two higher. She said with a wide grin, “Oh yeah!” Then the lady indicated that we should not buy the “add-on” slime spray that goes inside the balloon to extend its life—nasty tasting and unhealthy to suck that in with the helium! She lost an “add-on” sale, but won a customer for life.

Remember, this was a dollar store. We are not talking Holt Renfrew, Saks Fifth Avenue, or Nordstrom here—we are talking dollar store. I was blown away. We got great products and amazing service. It made my day! I was so impressed. If only everyone could deliver such amazing customer service!

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  1. Why would someone invest large sums of money into a business and then fail to train their employees properly? It seem that good customer service is a lost art. Like a basic hi, or welcome. Go the extra mile and maybe visit with your client instead of an email or phone call. We are all in the relationship business. Get to know your people, especially the front line “on stage characters” that run your business.

    Set the expectations high, especially for yourself. Communicate why this is important to everyone’s overall success. Do not accept mediocrity!!

    Above all, be genuine and have fun.

    • Paul,

      WOW.. you nailed it. Thanks for reading and thanks for the post. It is so true… but I see it everyday in my travels and at home. Organizations who train their staff (and hire accordingly) in customer service and others that don’t! And you are right… in our sponsorship world it is all about relationships. And it we don’t deliver great service (before, during and after) we will not have a lasting relationship.

    • Thanks Dee Ann


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