Service with a Smile and Kind Words to Match

Written By Tony Mussari
Copyright 2012
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD
The Face of America Project

One of the measures of America at its best is service.  Two of our founding fathers, John Adams and Ben Franklin, penned words about service that are popular to this day:

“If we do not lay out ourselves in the service of mankind whom should we serve?”

“Well done is better than well said.”

Translated into aphorisms that define the concept of client service, I would offer these:

“The customer is always right.”

“The customer is King.”

Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart had very strong feelings about customer service:

“The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but legendary.”

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

Service in Action and Word

This week I met a woman who personifies all of the characteristics of customer service at its best.

Debbie Heberling is the manager of the hardware department at our local Wal-Mart store. When I called the store to ask about the availability of a Brinks Corded Motion Light, she greeted me in very welcoming way. She explained that she had not been in her department for three weeks, but she would walk to the aisle where the lights were displayed, and look for the product.

She took her time.  She was not inconvenienced by my request.  She was more than willing to be helpful, and she eventually found what she thought at the time was the right product.

She brought the light to a central location, and she made arrangements for me to pick it up.

When I thanked her for the time and effort she invested in the transaction, she said something that made a lasting impression:

“I am more than happy to help you. Without satisfied customers, I would not have a job.”

What a refreshing and thoughtful thing to say to a customer.  It made my day.

When I went to the store, the product was exactly where she said it would be and it had my name on it.

I asked for Debbie, and I was told she was working at register 20. I wanted to thank her, so I made my way to the register. We had a very pleasant discussion, and then I asked for the manager to record my satisfaction with Debbie’s accommodating service.

With that done, I walked to my car, and I drove home.

When I opened the box, I was surprised to find a light that was not corded. Neither Debbie nor I thought it necessary to open the box in the store.

When I made contact with Debbie to tell her what happened, she did not hesitate to apologize for the inconvenience. She took full responsibility for the inconvenience and she volunteered to do everything in her power to fix the situation.

“I am embarrassed,” she said, “when things like this happen. I do not like it when my department is disorganized. I take pride in my work, and I like to help customers.”

So what’s the bottom line here?

If every employee and department manager went to the client service school of Debbie Heberling every shopping experience would be pleasant and productive.

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