How Employees Win Customers’ Hearts

By Rita Zeidner Jun 29, 2010


SAN DIEGO—Do you know what it feels like to be a customer of your organization?

Are you communicating with your customers and your employees on both a business and a human level?

If the answer to both questions isn’t a resounding “Yes!” you probably aren’t as good a manager as you could be, according to crowd-pleasing author Barbara Glanz, president of Glanz Communications Inc. in Sarasota, Fla.

A gifted storyteller, Glanz peppered her June 27, 2010 SHRM Annual Conference Super Sunday Session here on how to give great customer service—attended by more than 200 early arrivers—with personal anecdotes that carried a singular theme: “Let no one come to you without coming away better and happier.”

The message, she said, was inspired by “Johnny,” a bagger at a grocery store who has a developmental disability. Johnny, who had heard her speak to another group, took her message literally and began placing inspirational notes in customers’ shopping bags.

Customers loved it, and many made special trips to the store just to receive the messages. Some customers insisted that Johnny pack their groceries, even if it meant standing in a longer line at checkout.

His supervisor was caught off guard by Johnny’s initiative. But because the messages were a hit with customers, Johnny was allowed to keep doing it.

“Eighty percent of customer service is creative thinking,” Glanz said. “It’s about giving people options and alternatives. You have to win people over from the heart.”

Glanz had most of her audience tearing up when she related the experience of a young girl who had been mauled by a dog but whose most vivid memories of the awful experience were of the loving care she received from doctors and nurses. As her denouement, Glanz revealed that she was the little girl in her story.

The secret to great customer service, she said—including the type of care she got as a severely injured child—lies in getting employees to understand that their organization will be a “better place, or not quite as good, because of me.”

She identified 10 “simple truths” to customer service:

1.Great service inspires stories and memories. She recommended collecting stories about good customer service and sharing them with employees and their family members.

2.Great service requires creativity and “outside the box” thinking.

3.Great service is a choice—and organizations must convince workers to make that choice.

4.Service starts with a vision.

5.Organizations must ensure that their employees understand the vision.

6.Great service surprises people.

7.Anyone can deliver great service.

8.Great service requires going the extra mile.

9.Great service brings customers back.

10.Great service comes from the heart.

Rita Zeidner is a senior writer for HR Magazine.

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