I was enjoying work and coffee at Starbucks recently when a sharp dressed man walked in (queue ZZ Top). Young dude, maybe late 20s. He looked every bit the professional banker or Wall Street type. Great suit. Awesome tie. Well-groomed. Everything said, “You need to do business with me” except for one thing – his shoes.
Based on the suit, I’m confident the shoes were expensive. Sadly, they were dirty and scuffed. Even though everything else was top-shelf and in its place, given the choice, I would most likely do business with the person who completes his or her professional attire with nicely-shined shoes.
Why do I want to work with someone based on his or her shoeshine? Because polished shoes tell me this person pays attention to detail. They are concerned with everything, not just the big things. They are concerned with excellence.
Everyone can hit good or average. With some effort, the great plateau can be reached. The excellent peak? Reaching this level takes extra effort. It takes attention to detail. It takes polished shoes.
Those same levels apply to customer service. Lots of companies do an average or decent job of helping customers. These companies don’t build brand loyalty through their customer service but neither do they push their customers away. Some companies do a great job of helping customers. That excellence peak? Those companies are few and far between.
When you experience great customer service, you don’t forget it. Such is the case when I enjoyed coffee at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs this summer during vacation. We were sitting in a dark-paneled room, enjoying some drinks and snacks when a family sat down a few tables away – dad, mom, and two young teen daughters.
Shortly after giving their orders, one of the daughters knocked over her glass of water. To most of the table, it wasn’t a huge ordeal. The parents didn’t get mad and the server offered good customer service by quickly cleaning up the table, getting a new water glass for the young girl and new napkins for everyone. The daughter, though, was clearly upset about her mess as she went from a sad face to putting her head down to all-out tears.
Out of nowhere came the restaurant manager to take the customer service from good to great. The manager made sure everything was back in order and her calm voice assured the young lady that everything was fine. While the manager spoke to the entire table, she focused her attention on the daughter, asking her if she could do anything to make the meal better and even giving a reassuring hug as she walked away.
The manager was no more than twenty feet away when she turned around, headed back to this young lady, and took the service from great to excellent. The manager looked the young girl in the eyes and said, “How about some free French fries? French fries always make things better!” This turned the young lady’s frown into a big smile.
This is a fantastic example of “polished shoes” customer service and why I will go out of my way to visit the Broadmoor again. The server offered good customer service and the manager offered great customer service with her friendly voice and assurance that all was fine. Most companies – most people – stop at this great level. However, the Broadmoor and this manager understand that customer loyalty is built through the little things that define excellent customer service.
Have you experienced “polished shoes” customer service recently? How do you define excellent customer service?
Darren K. Ford
I've enjoyed a great career. Worked in many different industries with great coworkers and customers. I talk to a lot of people while drinking a lot of coffee. I read constantly. From all of this, I have much to say.