Have you ever happened upon a customer service experience so good it was completely uneventful? Surprisingly, often the best you can do for a client is to be invisible.
Maria is a waitress my husband and I had several months back at a local steakhouse. Her timing was perfect. The drinks remained filled, but she wasn’t bothersome. She was just perky enough without seeming fake. Her effortless interaction would have made it easy to miss how spectacular she really was. Maria was perfectly forgettable, and it blew me away.
This service was, in a word, magical. The magic behind Maria was how she completely got rid of herself. She was almost an extra in our dinner scene. The night wasn’t about her, or about empty drinks, or cold food; it was about my husband and I sharing our day and enjoying each other’s time.
What are the common, everyday requests from your customers? In Maria’s case she knew that her customers ask for refills, so she’d bring them a new drink before they ever had to raise an empty glass. This is obvious when you think about it, but how often has your beverage been wanting even at your favorite restaurant?
Let’s pretend you’re in a manufacturing or distribution role. How many times a day are you asked for shipping confirmation or tracking? Could you anticipate the needs ahead of time and give them the information before it’s requested? You’re taking away a to-do item before it ever makes the list.
You might be “just a customer” in a restaurant but you can still think of the kinds of things that your server can do to be invisible but make your experience better. Here are some more examples for other industries:
- Marketing – Why not have different sizes of your client’s logos ready to go at a moment’s notice? That way you don’t have to create them on request.
- Healthcare – Before a patient returns to the front desk to schedule their appointment six months out, why not look up dates your provider is available that are at that interval?
- Accounting – If a customer asks for reports about once a month, why not run them in advance to save them time?
- Retail – If you have regulars, why not have a “face book” of pictures and names for your front desk staff to review during their down times?
When the shoe is on the other foot and we’re doing the servicing we often try to get our needs met. We just want to be liked, what’s the harm in that? The problem lies in our ego. Ego keeps us from seeing the perspective of others clearly. It keeps us caught up in the “what’s in it for me” mentality, and we can lose sight of why those clients chose us in the first place. Here’s a hint: it was for their reasons, not yours.
Everyone is important, but sometimes we need to look in the mirror and realize that humility is both highly elusive and incredibly valuable. When we put ourselves first, others take notice and don’t want to be around us. But when we put others first, they appreciate our sacrifice—even if it ends up being invisible!
When we can get rid of ourselves we’re able to anticipate the needs of others and tend to them before they ever realize the need is there. Become the equivalent of background noise. The experience you provide should be so spectacular that no one sees it coming, or going.
Be like Maria. Anticipate the needs of your customers, and do your best to be invisible. You’ll be almost forgettable, but not quite. And that will keep people engaged and coming back. Bon appetit!