Customer service

So when at work it’s not a bad idea to treat everyone you meet as a customer, and for you to recognise that you are also a customer, so be clear about what you want from those around you.

I’ll talk about critical tasks later, and in this area it’s essential that everyone is clear about co-commitments from co-workers (i.e. customers).

Some business gurus talk about excellent customer service or being the “customer’s hero.” You will have met him. He’s the person in Bunnings who is talking to customers and who knows where everything is!

Being the customer’s hero means:

“Be there when the customer needs you and make the personal interaction with the customer as memorably positive as possible”.

Adam Toporek American Management Association. AMACON 2015.

Who is the customer?

The short answer is everyone you meet at work. The only reason you are at work is to engage with these people to make some product or service. To do that everyone needs to give something (usually a service) and get something in return.

Customer expectations

Many books have been written about customer service. Why? Because there are a lot of places where customer service is just awful.

But as a new starter, this is good news. It means that you don’t have to be so great to look better than the next guy!!

In a nutshell, customer service is about meeting the customer’s expectations. Simple. So if you know what the customer expects, and give it to him, all will be fine.


Problems arise because of:

• Disinterested workers
• Workers more interested in following the system than meeting customer expectations • Poorly trained workers
• Poorly trained management
• Boss never feeds back when there is bad service so everyone thinks it’s OK
• Boss never feeds back on good service so no one knows what good service is
• Workers accept mediocrity: “Near enough is good enough”
• Workers don’t understand what their job is, or where value is added or destroyed • Uninspiring work environment

AMACON suggests that there are 7 common things that really annoy customers. I’ve certainly experienced them all – sometimes in the one day!

1. Being ignored
2. Being abandoned
3. Being hassled
4. Being faced with incompetence 5. Being shuffled between people 6. Being powerless
7. Being disrespected

Ultimately, there is only one point that counts - being disrespected. If you have respect for someone, you make sure the other 6 never happen.

So my advice is to always treat co-workers and customers with respect. Try to put yourself in their shoes, anticipate (if you can) what they might want, but always listen carefully to what they are saying.

Going the “extra step”

So, if you are OK with JUST meeting the customer’s expectations, you can skip this bit. However, if you want to be excellent at work - read on.

Let’s start with agreeing that very few workers exceed customer’s expectations. When was the last time you dealt with a company or a shop or a café where you came away thinking, that service was really AWESOME!!

If you exceed customer expectations, you are exceptional and will stand out from your co-workers. So what do you have to do to achieve that, remembering that a customer could be a co-worker himself?Basically it requires you to surprise the customer by going that extra step. Just doing one thing more than the customer anticipates is part of this task or transaction.  

So, if you stay within the job guidelines, and deliver more than the customer expects, you will increase your reputation, and more importantly, you will be adding value to yourself as an employee.

Examples of exceeding customer / co-worker expectations could be:

• Anticipating what the boss will require – having it ready before he asks • Using your initiative to complete a task
• Getting tools ready for a task ahead of time
• Adding a chocolate to a coffee order

• Remembering a customers’ name and preferences

• Helping a co-worker with your special skills