Well, it’s road trip time. Every month or so, my wife and I love to do a road trip. So we load up our 24 foot Mercedes Sprinter, and off we go. Last week, while driving through Arkansas, we hit one humdinger of a thunder storm, and, of course, it had to be at night. I stopped to get some diesel and some cool drinks, and as I pulled out of the gas station, I noticed I did not have working low-beam headlights. Now, this is no big deal in the middle of a sunny afternoon; but at night, in the middle of a monsoon, it is sort of a necessity.
Luckily, my high beams were working and I made it into North Little Rock around 9 o’clock that night. My wife is usually my reality check, and she advised me that it might be a good idea to get those lights fixed before the next time the sun set. I shook it off and said, “Oh, I’ll do it tomorrow when we stop.” I didn’t even have to turn my head, because I could feel her giving me the look that I have grown accustomed to after 45 years of marriage.
So, our first stop the next morning was Advance Auto Parts in North Little Rock, Arkansas. While walking into the store, I had an interesting thought. I lost both low beam headlights at the same time. Now, that could be coincidence—but not likely. I turned around and checked the fuses. Nope, they were good. I left the hood up and walked into the store. I was greeted by Sharon at the front desk. “Hey, Sharon, I know this sounds weird, but I have lost both of my low-beam headlights at the same time!” She informed me that I might have only had one and not really noticed it at the time. Sounded reasonable to me, and she recommended a good set of lights.
Have you ever changed headlights on your car? Some car manufacturers require you to take the engine out to put in new headlights. I had not even checked how complicated it might be or even if I had the proper jm37222-e wrench that was required for headlight installation on a 3500 Mercedes Sprinter. Please forgive me, but I wasn’t going to ask for help to get the, “Oh, I only work here, and we only sell parts we don’t put them on” line.
As Sharon was finishing up the transaction, she asked, “Have you ever installed headlights on your camper?” Caught up in this momentary customer service nirvana, I said, “Well, no. Not really,” which loosely translates to, “Are you kidding me?” She reached under the counter and pulled out a pair of rubber gloves, “I’m sure you know this; but you shouldn’t touch the bulbs with you hands, because the oils on your hands causes the bulbs to burn out faster.”
I was so taken by the fact she was going to change the bulbs, that I didn’t know what to say. All that came to mind was, “Shazam!” and, for a moment, I felt like Gomer at the gas station in Mayberry. She dismantled the mechanism to replace the headlights, and Cecil walked up. “I got it Sharon. I just got back from my delivery if you want me to help.” Deb is reading a book in the front seat of the RV, absolutely impervious to the fact I am getting real customer service here. Cecil replaces the bulbs, gives me a quick lesson on how to replace them, and asked if there was anything else I needed help with. I escorted Cecil back in the store to tell the Store Manager, Ron, what an awesome experience I had just had and to thank him for allowing his employees to help me. “It’s how we do business,” he said, “and stop by anytime!” I jumped in the drivers seat, and Debra didn’t even look up, “See, I told you—easy squeezy,” she said with a smile.
As my third installment to the things people say that really bother me, this one was a surprise. Helpful, kind, courteous service is always refreshing. The next time you hear, “I only work here,” or “That is not what we do,” remember that we live in an age where it is easier to tell you what I don’t do than to help you do it. Here are some great tips to build confidence in serving those around you.
When you meet your customer, you can say:
- Hello. What can I help you with today?
- I’ll be happy to help you with …
- Nice to meet you! (Even on the phone, if you know it’s the first-time you’ve talked, acknowledge it.)
While you are helping the customer, you can say:
- I understand why you … feel this way/want a resolution/are frustrated. (This confirms you understand their emotions, too.)
- That’s a good question. Let me find out for you. (Very effective when you don’t have the answer at hand.)
- What I can do is … (This is especially good when customers request something you can’t do.)
- Are you able to wait for a moment while I …? (This is perfect when the task will take a few minutes.)
- I’d love to understand more about this. Please tell about … (Good for clarifying and showing interest in their needs.)
- I can tell how much this means to you, and I will make it a priority. (That’s reassuring to any customer with concerns.)
- I would suggest … (This lets them decide which road to take. Avoid telling them, You should …)
Before they leave, tell them:
- I’ll send you an update when …
- Rest assured, this will/I will/you will … (Let them know of the next steps you are certain will happen.)
- I really appreciate that you let us know about this. (Great for times when customers complain about something that affects them and others.)
- What else can I help you with? (This makes them feel comfortable bringing up something else.)
- I’ll personally get this taken care of and let you know when it’s resolved.
- It’s always a pleasure working with you.
- Please contact me directly at … whenever you need something. I’ll be ready to help.
Some things never go out of style. Shazam! It ain’t rocket science.