|Improving Customer Service
Issue # 49 of 70
By: Dr. John T. Self
In a typical week, I usually go into at least one hotel, several hundred restaurants and assorted dry cleaners, retail stores, banks, and department stores. The best of these have one outstanding attribute in common. They have all elevated their service to the level of performance art.
This performance art comes into the little things that inspired service companies do for their customers through their employees. As John D. Rockefeller said, "The secret of success is to do common things uncommonly well." That was, and is still, so true.
Referring to service as performance art is by no means derogatory. When I watch a Broadway play I don't actually see the acting; I feel a relationship between the actors and myself to such a degree that I become lost in the reality of the play. And so it should be with good customer service.
The best service companies train and retrain until the employees know their roles so well that it is part of their persona. When they walk into the door of their work they are entering their theatre. They may be quiet and unassuming at home, but here with the audience of their customers, they become, like the best actors, the stars of the show.
Most service industries have at least a part of the theatre in them. Disney even calls each employee a cast member. Don't forget, people don't go out to restaurants just so they can survive for a number of hours. They go out to eat in order to be able to relax in one way or another and, in many ways, be entertained. So it is with many, if not most service companies. When the company really understands this mix of theatre and business they can transport their customers from the drudgery of a mere business transaction to actually becoming part of the community.
The relationship is like a dance that has the customer leading with the left foot while the business follows with the right. When it is executed flawlessly, the lead flows back and forth with seemingly little or no effort. When it is less than flawless, the results, like in dance, range from merely awkward to downright dangerous.
To elevate your service to that of performance art, try some of the following suggestions:
In the words of that great 20th century philosopher, David Letterman: "There's no business like show business, but there are several businesses like accounting."
Text © Dr. John T. Self, 1997,1998. Part of the original Sideroad.