Moment of Truth: Skills for Superior Customer Service

Skills for Superior Customer Service

“People expect a certain reaction from a business and when you pleasantly exceed those expectations you’ve somehow passed an important psychological threshold.”
— Richard Thalheimer, President, The Sharper Image

Traffic was horrific the day I was in Washington, DC for a national conference. I got to the hotel for registration just three minutes after the last shuttle left for Ford’s Theater where we were to hear a speaker who presented himself as Abraham Lincoln.

Two other women, Linda and Denise, had the same problem. We looked expectantly at the woman who worked for the transportation company. She said, “You’re late! There is nothing I can do. The last shuttle just left. My instructions say that we will not run another one. And it wouldn’t do you any good any way to get there late because when the program starts in Ford’s theater, they lock the doors.”

My thoughts were like a spontaneous combustion explosion: “I’d never hire this company for transportation.”

We looked at each other and Denise asked, “Well, what are we supposed to do for an hour and a half?” We laughed nervously as each threw out a suggestion: sleep, people watch in the lobby, or check voice mail.

As we started to walk toward the bell stand in hopes of getting a taxi, another employee, Margaret, from the same transportation company walked up. In a pleasant voice and with a warm smile, she said, “Are you three here for the Ford Theater presentation? Did you miss the shuttle?” We nodded. “Let me help you.”

Margaret walked out of the hotel and over to the shuttle bus driver who had just returned. He was more than happy to make an extra run. She ushered us into the bus, rode with us to the theater, walked us up to the front desk and only when she was sure we would be admitted to the performance did she leave us. We waved a heartfelt “thank you” to her as we disappeared through the wide double doors to be seated.

My spirits were restored and I thought to myself, “I would hire or recommend this company in a heartbeat.” Linda, Denise and I had just experienced extraordinary service with a smile.

It was the “Can Do” attitude and the superior customer service people skills that made a difference in the two employees. Margaret knew all about answering questions, solving problems, fixing what was broken and finding what was lost. Soothing the irate and reassuring the timid was a “no-brainer” for her.

Margaret used a Moment of Truth well. A Moment of Truth occurs anytime a customer comes in contact with any part of your company and uses that contact to judge the quality of your organization. In a Moment of Truth, customers form or revise their impressions about your company. Their feelings become more positive or reverse and head for the negative.

Yes, I should have been on time but sometimes there are circumstances beyond personal control. So if you get caught a little behind, hope for a Margaret to give you extraordinary customer service and when you get the opportunity, make sure you deliver Margaret Moments of Truth.

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