Ever notice how some people always get the best table, the upgraded room, the best cut of meat at the market? Conversely, others seem to continually get the surly waiter, the lazy clerk, the indifferent bellhop.
Which group are you in? If it's the latter, take heart. Because great customer service is no accident; there are things you can do to get it. Indeed, those who receive the most professional, courteous and friendly service follow a deliberate recipe that turns even a cold and raw initial encounter into a warm and delicious experience.
Here are six tips for almost always getting great customer service.
1. Check your pessimism at the door.
Enter the scene with the expectation that greatness is about to happen and that it should happen to you. Visualize being served well. Then let your obvious positive attitude and confident expectation come from your terrific mental picture. Avoid making demands. Instead, put your energy into creating early, lighthearted vibes.
2. Carefully manage the first ten seconds.
The first ten seconds are vital to shaping the reception you are likely to get. Aim your eyes and best Steinway smile at the service provider. Deliver a greeting that loudly proclaims, “We are about to have some unbelievable festivity here. And you’re invited!” Be confident, but not aggressive or pushy. Optimism and joy are generally infectious. Remember, servers favor customers who are a pleasure to serve.
3. Help the service provider give you greatness.
Most service people really are eager to give great service. But sometimes barriers can make it difficult. So, be a willing helper in clearing those barriers away. If the barrier is the server's foul mood, try a quick tease or sincere compliment to turn sour into sunny. If the barrier is an absurd policy, offer a novel suggestion that helps you get what you want without putting your service person at risk of managerial disdain.
4. Always lace your encounters with respect.
No matter how determined a service provider seems to be to provide the absolute bare minimum, always treat him or her with respect. Sometimes a “no” is an unshakable “no!” Always use your very best manners: “please,” “sir” and “thank you.” Remember: A chilly initial reception will generally thaw if you are persistent in your cheerfulness. Your Rules ‘R Us server just might surprise you with a turnaround attitude late in the encounter.
5. Invite the service provider to join your adventure.
Use a playful style that lets the service person permit him or herself to be a bit mischievous. Instead of announcing: “I’d like a no-smoking table with a view,” try: “We’d love to get the table that you would want if this was your special night. I know you can get us just the right spot.” If you help make service delivery feel fun, you’ll have servers wanting to join you on the playground!
6. Be generous and thoughtful.
Never view a service encounter as a single transaction, but rather the start of an important relationship. Assume you’ll be back, and be generous in expressing your gratitude for great service. Praise service people to their superiors. Express your compliments to great service providers with a follow-up note or call. The next time you return, you’ll get their red carpet best!
Don’t wait for great service to come to you. Take charge of elevating the encounter from a “pretty good” transaction to an “I wouldn’t go anywhere else” relationship. Service people enjoy great customers just as much as customers enjoy great servers. So, "serve" from your heart and you’ll be served in the same fashion.
Related: 25 Tips for Earning Customer Loyalty