Home > Uncategorized > Can Customer Service Mindset Be Taught?

Can Customer Service Mindset Be Taught?

Over the summer we went on holiday to England and experienced the real life in England by staying in B&Bs as opposed to the usual hotels that one tends to do on travel. And it did reveal a different side of the place and the people.

Right across the place we were staying in London was a little lane and there was this really cute little café run by a couple of Italians. Wot The Dickens!

The first time we went there for breakfast they were friendly and welcoming and as we placed our orders made some recommendations to save us some money. Not bad you’d say. Or perhaps, even, expected. A few days later when I went again, for only the second time, the man behind the counter recognised me and engaged me in a conversation on the reason I was in London. On being told that I was there for a wedding he talked about weddings and how his partner did not believe in weddings and thereby bringing the partner in, resulting in an entertaining chat. As I left with merely my cup of coffee in hand I had a smile on my face. Ah well you may say, small cafes recognize their customers as individuals and can spend time building a relationship.

Next to this café is another little one, which is where we went the first day. Run by a couple of Polish girls. We got what we ordered and that was it. No chit chat. No attempt to make you feel welcome or comfortable. And no it was not a busy day, we were the only ones.

So clearly being small is not enough.

During this same holiday we were also traveling by train. A cousin of mine stood at a counter to buy 4 tickets for us for our trip. When his turn came to buy tickets he said ‘2 adults and 2 children’. The man behind the counter asked ‘ Will you be traveling together?’ . ‘Yes’ replied the cousin. ‘Then what you should buy is the family ticket. It is much cheaper and gets you 2 adults and 2 children’. My cousin was quite surprised with the attitude. Here was an employee of a large organisation who was willing to ‘lose revenues’ by being honest. If we’d bought the 4 tickets as individuals we’d have been none the wiser. But the fact that someone is willing to ‘help’ with no ulterior motive save the need to do the right thing, leaves an extremely favorable impression.

We’ve all been to places like Starbucks and sometimes, some employees are engaging and welcoming while others are focused on getting the order processed as efficiently as possible.

All service organisations have process manuals and training programs. It can teach you a way to act and behave. But does it bring the genuine warmth that relationships need?

Lots of brands now seem to be defining themselves as being in the service business. So they are looking beyond being in the product business. Which is great as building consumer relationships are vital to the long term success of brands.

However, the service business requires a different mindset. And I don’t know that it can be taught. Zappos and Amazon have shown that it is possible to build a customer service oriented organisation. So, it is not impossible.

Nordstrom has a hiring philosophy that says ‘Hire for attitude. Skills can be taught’. Perhaps, brands can learn from them?1077_lg_nordstromIrvineSpectrum

Again this is clearly far easier if you are in the service business. Restaurants, stores, hospitals even indeed live and die by customer service.

But what about if you were a marketer of soaps? How does customer service apply then?

I believe a customer service attitude is all about ‘being interested’.

If you marketed a soap how would you show you were interested? Technology to the rescue. Give the customer opportunities to reach out to you. Ask them how they liked what they bought. Any feedback? What did she not like? What did she like? Would she like to try something new? Would she be interested in a promotion? and so on. Social Media fits so right in to this space.

So again, if we started with what we wanted to do, we’d end up with a brilliant social media strategy. If we started with ‘let’s do a social media strategy’ we’d end up with…well…literally anything.

Perhaps customer service cannot be taught, but it sure can be learnt with a little help from social media.

  1. Nandu Buty
    August 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Good one HARISH. You write really well.


  2. August 14, 2013 at 9:00 am

    love the nordstrom recruiting philosophy

  3. August 14, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Very simple, beautiful lesson!

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