Quality service, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder

As I am getting ready to leave for my epic-mega-coaster-palooza-extravaganza tour, I started thinking about what sort of service experiences I would be expecting at the various parks we’ll be visiting. Since a person’s perception of the service they receive is largely subjective, you really could say that like beauty, quality service is in the eye of the beholder.  So I might expect something different than my friends, and we might even interpret the exact same situation in very different ways.

Now, you might think that as someone who writes about and teaches customer service tactics, I would have really high expectations.

Turns out, I don’t.

You might remember a story about Kordell who was a stand out employee on our trip last year.  His behaviors were actually over-and-above my expectations, which is probably why he was so memorable.

All I really want the employees to do is reinforce that I made the right decision to visit that particular business.

So how do they do that? In my mind, it starts with a smile. It’s a cliche, and everyone talks about it, but that’s probably because it’s often the first impression we have of how that service interaction will go. It truly does set the tone.

Second… Engage me in some way. Say hello, how ya doing, tell me you like my hat… Whenever you can do to acknowledge me as a person. It doesn’t have to be a huge gesture or a long conversation, but it does need to be sincere, and it helps (if conditions allow) for this to be accompanied by eye contact – but that’s not a prerequisite.

Last month I had the chance to go to Kemah Boardwalk, just south of Houston. There is a wooden roller coaster there called the Boardwalk Bullet. It’s a great ride, but what enhanced my experience even more was the operator who was bantering back and forth over the microphone with the guests, myself included.  When he noticed I had a little strap to hold my glasses on, he made a comment like, “this guy came prepared!”.

When he saw a guest in line with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt, he jokingly said, “No turtles are allowed to ride.”  He never spoke directly to me, but he made the experience much more fun and enjoyable.  I took a few extra rides just to hear what was he was going to say.

The final thing that makes a good interaction (in my mind) is some sort of send off.  “Thanks for visiting”, “Have a great day”, yadda, yadda, yadda.  Just SOME sort of acknowledgement that I chose to spend my time with you.

For example, the other day I was at the grocery store, and the cashier was as pleasant as could be.  The bagger wasn’t exceptional, but he wasn’t a dullard, either. What stuck with me was that when he was done bagging my groceries, there was no, “thanks”, no “enjoy the ice cream”… nothing.  He crossed his arms and looked toward the next customer coming down the line.  It was like as soon as my food was in the bag, I ceased to exist.  I didn’t think it bothered me that much until I realized that that was the thing I remembered most about my experience there.  It was last, and a lasting impression.

So that’s it:  Smile, engage me, and thank me.

What are your expectations?  Do you expect more or less?  How about your guests? What do they expect?

I’ll be reporting along the way on our trip… I’m excited to see how it goes!

Thanks for reading!


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