How Is Your Customer Service…Meh?

How Is Your Customer Service…Meh?

Guest writer John Anderson relates his road trip experiences to readers in his blog post this week: How Is Your Customer Service…Meh? Here’s hoping your service cannot be described as “meh.”

I recently made a cross country trip in the United States, well perhaps not cross country so much as up and down.   Crossing into the US at Detroit and meandering my way to the southern climes of Florida.   Traveling throughout my career I learned to value “windshield time”.  It was my time to solve the world issues at hand.  I had little to distract me save for a chatty sales rep that was there for a ride along.  This trip was a little different.  Windshield time is now a mix of super productive calls, texts and emails thanks to the technology in my truck and the traditional time to stew and think deep thoughts. 

On this particular trip I spent a lot of time noticing how our expectation of customer service had changed.  I mean it’s changed a lot.  The bar is lowered to a near subterranean level.  How many times in the last year have you been surprised that someone has called you back?   How many times have you been surprised by someone actually getting you an answer or making a plan or reserving a product. How many times have you made a call only to here “can you hold please.”  And it’s said as a statement, not a question.

What I liked about this trip is I started to really notice when I got great customer service and when I didn’t.   Surprisingly it was hard to find those instances where someone cared.   It was like I was starving for a meaningful customer interaction.  Had I just become a curmudgeon and gave off so much negative energy that nobody would make eye contact?  I was two fuel stops, one fresh fruit stand and a rest station into my trip.  I had no experience, not bad, not good, just meh.  That’s it! We all accept MEH!  We have come to accept if it isn’t bad, it’s just MEH!  How far we have come and how low we have set our expectations from the days of Customers for Life, What Customers Crave, and Hug Your Haters (these were all bestsellers once).

Day two had promise though.  I woke at 6:00am in the RV.  I was graciously provided an overnight stop at Lane’s Southern Orchards.   Imagine a business that encourages you to stop overnight and use their parking lot with no obligation.  I had stayed before and knew the food was good and the peach preserves were the best I ever had but it was closed because I had battled Atlanta traffic. I did call and tell them I would be late.  I woke to a stellar sunrise over acres of strawberry fields and peach orchards.   The cannery was already in full swing and I can’t describe how good it smelled.  I had to hit the road and when I jumped in the truck, I noticed a small hand written note and a jar on my hood that said, “Sorry we missed you! Come back again soon.” My day was off to a great start and I would definitely be back.  Next time I will be in early to buy lots of goodies and load up for the trip home. 

Next stop was to get fuel, no easy feat when you’re dragging 42 feet behind you.  My technology suggested I stop at the next exit and use BUC-EES.  It also suggested I check out their restrooms.  That’s the oddest recommendation I have had yet, but it was the best.  I will leave it to you to discover on your own. Buc-ees is built around positive customer experiences.   They greet you; they sincerely ask about your trip or what you might need.  I think they have everything in the world.  Its like the Walt Disney World of highway gas stations and they use every customer service trick in the book.   With 40 pumps, and hundreds of parking spots there is now waiting.  Need lunch or supper its already cooking. Forgot your warm clothes or a gift for the grandkids, they have it all. I encourage you to have a look on you tube as I can’t do it justice. 

My point is that here I am, 2 weeks later thinking about going back to those places that gave me better than meh.   Do you actively train your staff to prevent meh! Have you trained them on the fine art of conversation.   Do they understand that before you can sell a lot you have to mean a lot.   The bar has never been lower, all you need to do is care.  People are starving for a customer experience; a good customer experience is a bonus.  I have faith that humanity will return to caring about each other and enjoying each other.  In the meantime, it’s just, well meh!

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