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What Makes Great Customer Service? Lessons from the Unexpected

Avatar of Pulse Marketing By Pulse Marketing

Some time ago, I wrote about an unfortunate customer service experience I’d had while shopping. I’m a believer in balance, though, and this week, I want to share a positive – and quite surprising – customer service interaction I had just recently. This experience really emphasized the huge difference that even small gestures can make.

I’m a huge fan of Halloween. Last night, I decided to call around and see if any stores in the area had white powder compacts in stock (something difficult to find locally, even during the spooky season). Nobody did. At the last store I called, no one even answered the phone. Since it was late by that time, I assumed the store had closed for the night, and decided to call back some other time.

A few minutes later, as I was on the phone with a friend, my call waiting alert went off. I ignored it the first time, since I didn’t recognize the number, but then it popped up again five minutes later.  Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a sales girl from the last store I’d tried to contact earlier, returning my call (via *69) because my number had come up on their “missed call” display. To keep it short, our whole conversation was quick, courteous, and easy. Not only did this store have what I needed, but they also set the product aside for me to pick up at my convenience. My problem was solved in just a few moments– without any delays or frustration. When the call ended, I was genuinely astonished.  The whole encounter was a solid example of all the DO’s of great customer service.

Firstly, she got back to me promptly. At that late hour, no one would have blamed the sales girl for just calling back the next day (especially since I hadn’t left any kind of voice message explaining who I was or what I wanted.) Instead, though, she responded just a few minutes after I’d originally called. This is a great credit to the brand she represents, and it’s also a smart way to encourage customer retention. If she had called back the next day, or later in the week, I would have been more likely annoyed by the interruption – particularly because by then I would have had time to visit the store in person anyway.

Second, she was persistent. I returned the call not because I recognized the number, but because that number came up on my phone twice in a space of ten minutes – which meant that the person on the other end wanted to speak to me. Had the sales girl given up after her first try, I would have dismissed it as a solicitation or a wrong number, and forgotten all about it. As it is, I’m scheduled to pick up my reserved product in the next few days, and possibly some others besides – a sale opportunity that would have been lost without that responsive customer service.

Finally, she responded personally. Customers who can voice their questions or concerns to a real, sympathetic person are more likely to trust the business in question – and I’m no exception. And even better than just being courteous, this girl was also well-informed. I told her what I was looking for, and she was able to assure me that they did have the product in stock, how long they’d be carrying it, and how much it cost, without having to put me on hold while she looked up the information.

My whole exchange with this particular store took under a minute, but in that time, their representative answered my questions and conveniently arranged for me to get what I needed. I’ll be visiting that store with a high opinion from now on.

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