Customer Service is About Doing the Right Thing

Sam Glenn, Keynote Speaker on Creating Outstanding Customer Service Experiences
Sam Glenn, speaker, author
The customer experience is everything.  Without the customer, most businesses would not be in business.  And it is a mathematical fact, that if you don’t take care of your customer, your competition will be happy too.  Great customer service experiences can be broken down into many elements that create the substance of a quality customer experience, but one enormous factor is simply doing the right thing. The question you have to ask yourself when dealing with a any customer service situation is, “What is the right thing to do?”
A few years ago, I was checking into a hotel and it was crazy humid out.  I was thirsty and I noticed behind the registration desk they had about 12 stacked cases of bottled water.  I thought, “Ahhh..relief!”
So, I asked the young lady checking me in if I could have a bottle of water.  Her response, “I am sorry sir, those are reserved for VIP guests.”
At this point, I started to wonder if I would be sleeping in a cot next to the dumpster out back.  I realized I did not have the “I know Jesus” triple platinum double diamond preferred guest status, but come on.  So, I pulled out a $10 bill and said, “Hey, I will buy one off you and you can keep the change.”
She responded, “I am sorry sir, I can’t do that.”
So, out of curiosity, I asked, “Why?”
And she looked over her shoulder and said, “Because I will get in trouble. However, there is a vending machine around the corner that you can buy one there.”
Speaking on the subject of customer service for over 16 years, I wanted sit down with them explain how simple creating a great customer service experience is.  I got the vibe, they just did not have the awareness of how they were treating me or anyone else that may not be a VIP.  Every guest should be treated like a VIP.  That is the right thing to do.
I checked in, and proceeded to make my way down the hallway to the vending machine.  I knew I was getting close when I heard the ice machine making those crazy ice falling sounds.  This particular vending machine did not offer water, but only soda and juices.  So I walked all the way back to the front desk and said, “There is no water in the vending machine.”
At this point, I was thinking the young lady would direct me to a hose and facet out back, but she lived up the expectation they had created for me and pointed outside, “There is a gas station about a half mile down the road.”
When she had her manager come out to give me directions to the gas station, I just about fell over laughing at how clueless they were to creating an outstanding customer experience.
Is your head spinning now with how crazy that kind of service was?
The question you have to ask yourself is, “What is the right thing to do?”
Now, some organizations have certain guidelines and policies in place that are there to protect the company and the customer.  And there is the fear factor that if you don’t follow the guidelines, you will get the boot.  My thought is you have to get smart when it comes to creating better business and not be afraid to step out of bounds and ask, “What is the right thing to do and do it!”
There is a story  that made national news of a guy working the late shift for a national retailer and on his lunch break, he was outside, and heard a woman being attacked in the parking lot.  The handbook says go get a manager and call for help.  But, he did what he thought was the right thing and went to help the woman being attacked.  He was fired for his actions.  We could debate this, but in my opinion if my daughter, grandma, mom or wife were being attacked in the parking lot – I would want that guy to go stop it before it got worse.  That is my personal call on the situation. I think he did the right thing, but since it was outside the handbook guidelines, he got fired.  The national retailer got so much heat from the press and public opinion that they tried to hire the young man back.
Here is one example of someone who is customer focused and understands that doing the right thing is not always the easy thing, but a loyal customer is everything.   I was staying at a hotel in Washington and for some reason there was a mix up with my hotel reservations, so I spent one night in one hotel and then the next day had to go about a mile down the road to another.  It was a pain in the rear.  Since this particular hotel did not have shuttle service and I did not have a car, I had to call for a taxi.  So, I was at the front desk asking about cab services and explaining my situation, and the manager overheard everything and said, “Hey, don’t worry about it, let me drive you.”
She pulled her car around, we loaded up my bags and she drove me to the other hotel.   Did she have to do that?  Nope.  Would her corporate office or regional supervisor be pleased with her driving a customer to stay at another hotel?  Maybe not, but what was the end result?   I was so impressed with that simple act of service that whenever I book a hotel in Washington, I book only at her hotel and I tell everyone I know to stay there as well.   In fact, I will pay more for that kind of service than the kind of service that makes me feel bad.  That is what poor service does, it makes people feel bad. It puts them in a bad mood.  It does not make them feel important and it puts a hiccup in their day.
My recommendation is to incorporate the question, “What is the right thing to do?”
Operate from that stand point and see your customer service experiences soar!