Giving Service When it's Not Expected

Posted on August 1, 2001 by LCT Staff - Also by this author

We can agree that good customer service is something that everyone appreciates. We all have a level of customer service which we expect people to give us. Whether it?s a waitress at a restaurant or a sales clerk at a department store, we expect that a proper level of service should be given. However, it?s when we receive that ?surprise? or ?extra? amount of service that we are most appreciative.

Let?s face it, in this industry the client?s expectations of the level of service that he or she is provided is a lot higher than in most other industries. So providing the client with that extra amount of service that he or she will deem worthy of appreciation becomes that much more difficult to do. However, it needs to be done in order to set you apart from the rest.

Here?s an example. There is a gas station, which just happens to be right around the corner from my house in Southern California, and it provides service beyond average expectations. Now keep in mind that this is just a gas station, and in California filling up your tank is comparable to voting ? you?re on your own. This lack of personal attention is something that I have grown accustomed to, and my expectations of customer service, if I received any at all, were pretty low. But I was in for a surprise.

I pulled into the self-serve island (full-service stations are about as rare in California as electricity) and started to get out of my car. Just as I stood up, a man in a fairly clean service attendant?s uniform came up to me and said, ?Good morning.? I returned the greeting, grabbed the nozzle and started to pump my gas. He said, ?Pop the hood, and I?ll check the oil.? I was surprised at his offer to work a little harder, but figured it was probably just a ploy to coerce me into buying oil that I didn?t really need or having some outrageously priced service done. Luckily I had just had my car serviced, so I was fine with the oil. I told him about my recent service, and figured that would be the end of it. But, I was wrong. He started cleaning my windows. He then informed me that there was some fresh coffee inside, and I was welcome to have some. Again, I was looking for a catch, but I needed my coffee! I went inside and poured myself a cup of freshly-brewed coffee for free. Feeling both surprised and pleased with the service I was getting, I walked back to my car. By the time I got there, my windows were clean, the nozzle was back on the pump and the cap was back on my tank. The attendant said, ?Have a nice day,? as I got into my car. I left the station in a good mood with coffee, clean windows and a full tank of gas.

So, has this increased my level of expectation from other gas stations? The answer is no. I know that it?s still every man for himself when it comes to pumping gas. However, I have since tried to make that station the only station where I get my gas. And every time I pull in, I still receive that same level of service. Even on busy days, I see the attendants providing every customer with the same level of customer attention.

By going that extra step and providing service that is not expected, you will retain a large customer base. This is by no means a new concept for this industry, but it is something that is worth reminding you about again and again. If I can become so pleased with the level of service at a gas station, just think of how pleased your clients will be with high-quality service for their luxury transportation.

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