Friday, September 24th, 2010
Last week, I delivered the opening conference keynote address for an insurance association at The Mirage Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
The topic was customer service and one of the behaviors I highlighted was to express genuine interest in your customers by, among other things, engaging them with questions.
After my presentation, one of the attendees asked how to express genuine interest in a customer when you have a line of other customers waiting to be served—either in person or on the phone.
That’s a fair question.
Waiting customers may perceive employees (or other customers) to be insensitive when an interaction continues beyond that which is deemed appropriate. If you’ve ever been exasperated while waiting to be acknowledged in such a situation, then you know what I mean.
Even so, it is possible to deliver exceptional customer service by expressing genuine interest, using appropriate humor, and conveying authentic enthusiasm—even when facing a long line of waiting customers.
As I stood in the taxicab line in front of the Mirage later that morning, for example, I observed a doorman named Folk doing a masterful job of modeling these customer service behaviors while remaining attentive to the fact that there was a continuous line of waiting customers.
As I progressed closer to the front of the cab line, I observed him interacting playfully with his guests and engaging them with short questions and an infectious smile.
As the guest ahead of me was about to get into her cab, Folk put his hand up and said, “Give me a high-five!”
She high-fived him and then positioned the palm of her hand near her pocket and said, “Down low.”
Both laughed as Folk reciprocated with a low-five before securing her in the backseat of the cab and closing her door.
As soon as that cab pulled away, Folk whistled for the next cab in line at the cab stand to pull forward. Even his whistle was different and reflected his unique style and flare.
As he took my suitcase, he asked, “Are you an NFL fan?”
I said, “Yes.”
He said, “In the Detroit game, catch or no-catch?”
He was referring to a controversial incomplete pass ruling that went against the Detroit Lions in their loss to the Chicago Bears the previous Sunday.
I told him that I’d heard some of the chatter but had not seen the play so I really couldn’t comment.
Before closing my door, Folk asked, “Where are you from?”
I said, “Denver.”
Smiling, he said, “Oh, a Broncos fan! Come back and see us!”
He then turned his attention to the next pair of guests in line to express genuine interest and perhaps use a bit of appropriate humor, while conveying authentic enthusiasm for serving others.
Not only did Folk make his guests smile, he made many lasting positive impressions—the kind that turn passive, disaffected customers into engaged promoters like me who are responsible for 80-90% of the positive word-of-mouth about a company or brand, are the least price-sensitive, and tend to repurchase again and again and again…
And that’s no mirage.