Customer service has been a hot-button topic over the last few weeks in my life. But if you think about it, we’ve all been talking about customer service, well, ever since we realized we could be customers!
Let’s be honest, a lot of companies down right suck at customer service. They make it all about their agenda, rather than the customer. No rapport, no trust, no bueno. One adage always comes to mind “Make one customer happy and they’ll tell five friends; tick them off and they’ll tell everyone they know.”
If you’ve ever had a good experience or a bad experience as a customer, you know that statement is the truth.
Many years ago my family experienced a house fire. As a sophomore in high school it had been the single most devastating event in my 16 years of life. Our emotions were high, no doubt about it. I will never forget a small silver car making its way down our long winding driveway with the words “State Farm” on the side. While the firemen were still dousing the flames, our insurance agent had driven 45 minutes to come to our aid.
I didn’t recognize him. He wasn’t a family friend, just an agent with hundreds of other clients. He explained that he had called his secretary to get messages and when he heard the news, he jumped in his car and drove directly to us. In his haste he had forgotten the company checkbook. Our agent proceeded to write a check out of his own personal bank account, and handed over all the cash he had in his wallet. He gave more than was necessary and he did more than was expected. We were blown away. At 16 I knew little about insurance, but the significance was not lost on me. In that moment I became a loyal client long before I was old enough to be a buyer.
Most companies don’t experience the drama of hellfire and brimstone when working with clients, but is it fair to say there are moments when emotions run high? When customers are vulnerable and loyalty may be wavering? It is your job to make sure your team is equipped to come to the rescue.
Good customer service does require responding to fires, and sometimes even putting out the fire. If you want loyalty, show up when people really need you. But if you aren’t interested in customers for life, then you won’t even think about being there. This is the difference between average customer service and amazing customer service: dedication that inspires loyalty.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. -Maya Angelou
Of course, this advice doesn’t just apply to the world of insurance, and it’s not just about customer service. If you want to have great relationships throughout your business and your personal life, focus on showing up when it’s most important. Focus on doing the right thing, even when it’s difficult and inconvenient.
And of course, people who aren’t even customers are impacted by the power of reputation. Just by being nice to the individuals who come into your office, you may be remembered. And if you’re rude to them—even if they aren’t customers—there’s a good chance your character will echo throughout their network.
Your business may involve the occasional fire, or it may be entirely filled with routine activity. But either way, always be serving others. You’ll reap the benefits for years to come.