How do you make your customers FEEL?

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”–Maya Angelou

Whilst driving into work this morning, I was trying to sum up my holiday experiences and that ever-present factor, customer service. In Cornwall, Spain and France over the past few months I have encountered some very interesting characters in the service industry, as we all do on a daily basis.

On occasions I left a store, hotel, market or restaurant feeling satisfied. On several occasions I left feeling good.

On one or two occasions I left feeling totally incensed. And on one occasion I left feeling REALLY happy. Other than the tangible factors that we can all measure, such as cleanliness, availability of products, speed of service and politeness, what is it about some experiences that make them GREAT?

Surely the answer is in how you make your customers FEEL? Only those clever people in the customer service industry are able to ‘step outside their own lives and step into the shoes of each individual customer’. A rare gift, and one quality not easily taught in an average training session.

This morning I stumbled across the following story by Kent Nerburn that I think nicely sums up my point.

Twenty years ago Kent used to drive cabs on the night shift; his customers at that time of the evening seemed to treat his taxi as a moving confessional. He tells us the story of one particular customer: an old, frail woman who Kent picks up at 2.30am.

Would you carry my bag out to the car? she said.

I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman. She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness.

“It’s nothing,” I told her. “I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother treated.”

When we got in the cab, she gave me an address, then asked, “Could you drive through downtown?” “It’s not the shortest way,” I answered quickly.

“Oh, I don’t mind,” she said. “I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice.”

Kent, sensing that the woman is in need of company and sympathy, decides to dedicate the rest of his shift to this one taxi ride. He spends several hours driving her around town, past important places in her life.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, “I’m tired. Let’s go now.”

…We drove in silence to the address she had given me…

“How much do I owe you?” she asked, reaching into her purse.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You have to make a living,” she answered.

“There are other passengers,” I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

“You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,” she said. “Thank you.”

I squeezed her hand, then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

(You can read the story in full at Sivasakthi Ranganathan’s blog)

Will your customers remember the 20% discount you had on offer or the fact that your produce was all labelled correctly? Will they remember that you used their name or said goodbye?

No, but it is all of those little details that add up when the customer thinks back on how the experience MADE THEM FEEL.

How do you make your customers feel? When they leave your store do they feel like they were valued?

Feelings – reactions, emotions – are not created through the offer of the week but rather through the relationships we build, the trust we earn and the time we spend with each customer.

How do your customers feel today? Do you engage your customers at an emotional level?