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How far have we lowered the Bar?

I had the great pleasure of working with a group of Management Trainees in the People’s Republic of Adelaide last week and, by pure coincidence, we were covering Customer Service Strategies.

And, as I usually do, I try to set the scene by asking a simple question: “When was the last time your service expectations were exceeded?”

Not, you will notice, the more obvious question of “When was the last time you had poor service?” That’s WAY too easy and usually gets the comment of “What time is it now?”

I really like to start off with a positive so we can focus on what DOES work and try to do more of that…
One guy puts his hand straight up and tells me “Yesterday!” I’m thinking this is as fabulous as it is unusual and beg him to continue.

“I eat a lot of junk food as I’m single, hate cooking and I’m always short of time” (He certainly didn’t look like a junk food fan – maybe he has a very fast metabolism?)

Anyway…back to the plot…

“Yesterday I was at Hungry Jacks and asked, as I always do, for my burger to come without ketchup, mayo or gherkin. When it arrived, I opened it and there was no ketchup, no mayo and no gherkin”

Slightly bemused, I asked, “And this this exceeded your expectations because…?”

“Because they always leave it in and I have to scrape it off before I eat it!” he said with a big cheesy (not gherkin!) grin!

Basically, what this happy chappie was telling me was that actually getting what he ordered, what he paid for was exceeding his expectations. Stunning isn’t it…???…!!!

Only two or three people from that group of 12 could come up with anything that exceeded expectations sufficiently to be memorable. And those, whilst not as painfully low as the first guy, were still basically providing the service we pay for – a fridge that was delivered upstairs, plugged in and levelled before the guys left…you know the sort of thing…

So exactly HOW low has the bar reached when this type of thing is considered “exceeding expectations”?

Answer: I think a cockroach would struggle to limbo dance under that bar now!!!

BUT – this is GREAT news for those of you who do “get” what good customer service is all about because, and please forgive the vernacular here, it doesn’t take much to shine in a bucket of s**t – apparently simply providing what people ask and pay for will delight quite a few of your customers!

For those who are more discerning maybe add a smile, a thank you and a “free” biscuit with their coffee and they’ll be customers for life!

For example – for cheap and cheerful “stuff” in department stores in Australia we have a choice, basically, of three. You know who I mean…

So I was in the largest one’s Indooroopilly branch on Saturday with my little girl looking for Easter goodies and, as we were walking is, I was expecting the usual “Hi. How are you today?”

What we got was the BIGGEST smile I’ve ever seen and “Good Morning. Welcome to Kmart. Love your outfit sweetie!” (Directed at Emma, not me – just in case you were wondering!)

And this wasn’t the first time I’d noticed this young lady and her enthusiasm – she’s ALWAYS the same. I don’t know about you, but I would struggle to be that bright, that enthusiastic even for 20-30 minutes sessions. I complimented her on her cheeriness and she accepted the compliment and gave me another BIG smile.

Now that’s simply a matter of ATTITUDE isn’t it? You can choose to enjoy what you do and let it show or, to use that great Aussie phrase, you can walk around with a face like a slapped arse!

I respond way better to the former than the latter and I expect you do to!

So can we PLEASE try and raise that bar? Just a wee bit? SMILEY PLEASE!!!