SBM Articles


Customer Service Excellence - Part 3

by Bill Collier

In parts 1 and 2 of this column, we talked about simple ways to deliver excellent service, and gave several “What were they thinking?” examples of service gone bad.

This time, we’ll start off with two examples of organizations who have institutionalized rotten service. Apparently, they didn’t trust the employees to make customers mad so they made sure of it via policy and procedure. Each of these examples is recent and absolutely true.

The Library

My friend’s son turned 6 recently. The boy’s grandmother was in from out-of-town and on the day before his birthday took him to get his first library card. Already an avid fan of books, he was excited! The two  librarians at the counter told the grandmother that a legal guardian must sign for the card. Grandma explained, “I’m flying out today and really want to see my grandson get his library card.” So, they called the kid’s dad, who left work to go to the library. When the librarians found out the boy was one day shy of turning 6, they told the dad to come back tomorrow. Even after being reminded that Grandma won’t be available the next day, they held their ground. Finally, my friend asked if he could predate the application and they relented. All for a library card. For a 6-year-old child. With his grandma.

The Mattress store

Another friend went to a mattress store to buy a cheap mattress for their guest room. He selected one that was advertised for $199. As the salesman was writing up the order, he added $75 for shipping. My friend told the guy that he’d just pick it up at the store. The response: “Nope, it doesn’t come to the store. It comes out of our north county distribution center.” Then my buddy offered to pick it up there and again was told he couldn’t do that. After a bit more back and forth, the salesman finally admitted the mattress isn’t really $199, since the $75 would be added no matter what. My friend bought his mattress elsewhere.

Your Company

It has been said that no company can be tops at quality, price and service. That may be true, but it seems to me that a minimum level of acceptable performance in all three areas is a prerequisite for success. Ensuring good customer service just makes sense, regardless of a business’ primary claim to fame.

What about your business? Do you have rules, regulations and restrictions that rub people the wrong way? When was the last time you analyzed your sales, ordering and check-out processes to see if they are still customer-friendly?  How about actually placing an order at your own place with an eye out for frustrations? Many retailers use “secret shoppers” who can check both for annoying rules and for the level of service being delivered. Do you provide ways for customers to share their feedback with you - good or bad?

This “service” stuff isn’t complicated. Engage with the customer, anticipate needs, go the extra mile and make it easy to do business with you.

Bill Collier owns Collier Business Advisors, LLC and is the St. Louis area head coach for The Great Game of Business. He works with organizations who want to improve financial results, engage their employees and create a winning culture. Bill can be reached at 314-221-8558, or

Submitted 5 years 183 days ago
Categories: categorySmall Business Success
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