Exceptional Customer Service: Beyond the Bottom Line

Good customer service is good business.

In a highly competitive marketplace, a company with lousy customer service won’t be around long. Beyond helping a business’s bottom line, exceptional customer service allows a business to connect with people at a personal level, build relationships, heighten employee’s enjoyment at work, and build the kind of customer loyalty that, ultimately, helps the business grow.

But beyond those benefits, a company should strive for exceptional customer service simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Too often, businesses see their customers as numbers, the means to a financial end. But these customers are people—people with families, bills, joy, and pain. Each customer interaction is an opportunity for a business to reach out and connect in a meaningful way, and sometimes have a positive impact in the life of the community around them.

Take two restaurants, for example, where all things are equal but the level of service.

In restaurant one, the server is nothing more than an “order taker.” They show up to the table a few minutes after the guests have been seated. “What can I get you to drink?” Then they disappear for a few more minutes. Finally, they show back up with the drinks. “Are you ready to order?” They disappear again. They’re not seen again until the order is ready to be brought to the table. “Okay, who had the fish?”

In that scenario, the server did nothing wrong, per se, other than missing several opportunities to make an impact in their guests’ evening.

At restaurant two, moments after the guests sit down, the server shows up wearing a smile and introduces himself. “Hi, I’m Stephen. I’ll be taking care of you tonight.” Stephen offers several beverage options—“everyone’s favorites!”—and gets the order. Returning promptly with the drinks, Stephen asks if it’s a special occasion and what the rest of the night has in store. Next, he describes the house specials in delicious detail and asks if they have any questions before taking their orders.

In both restaurants, the guests received their drinks and food. But the guests in the second restaurant also got Stephen, who was focused not only on their orders but their experience. Such an exceptional level of customer service can have several important results.

First, Stephen probably enjoys his job more by having guests who are having a better experience. And the customers are probably a lot nicer to him and are more forgiving when things go awry.

Second, the guest’s evening is off to a great start with a level of positivity that is certain to affect other people they see throughout the night.

Finally, let’s not forget that Stephen probably makes better tips and the restaurant ends up with loyal guests who rave to their friends and family.

Beyond the economic impact of exceptional customer service, businesses should strive for it because customers are people, not numbers. It should be top priority if for no other reason than the positive impact it makes in our customers’ lives and the communities in which we work. It’s the right thing to do!

Contributor: Eddie McDonald, Aptris Project Manager