our priorities at Vintage are: Service, Product, Speed. in that order. Service is always first, Product is second, and Speed is always important - but never more so than Service or Product.
Great Service is a Relationship
Service is as different between any two people as a relationship can be. As no two relationships are exactly the same, so are no two examples of service. But there are common elements to Service:
• Sincerity - Service can only be effective when it is sincere. This is just something that simply can not be faked. You have to honestly want to help your customers in order to pull this one off.
• Personality - first you have to have one, and second you have to be brave enough to be yourself. Consumers aren't impressed when you put on a corporate attitude like putting on a uniform. If you act like a person, people will treat you like one.
• Listening - people simply want to be heard. Whether giving you their order, or telling you about their day, the most important thing you can do is listen. Active listening is a good idea: eye contact, nodding, asking relevant questions without interrupting and acknowledging what you hear.
• Attitude - simply being positive and upbeat, a real smile. Genuinely wanting to be helpful, and genuinely sorry when you can't be. This can not be substituted by a fake smile and pretending to be super perky, either you choose to have a great attitude or you really shouldn't be helping customers.
• Knowledge - actually knowing how your product is made, and what it is made out of. Knowing history, trivia, stories - all of this is helpful when talking about your product and answering questions. Humility and the patience of a kind teacher are required with this one, otherwise you just look smug and pretentious.
• Talent - it helps a lot to be equipped with the skills needed to bring people what they want, even when you are busy with other customers and tasks. This is a life-long process, as i am still learning new skills all the time.
• Confidence - it takes confidence in order to treat others with dignity. Speaking to new customers you don't know isn't easy, it takes practice. And with practice comes confidence. Careful - over-confidence will work to your detriment.
• Openness - you have to be willing to admit when you don't know something, or when you've made a mistake. In order to give a customer the confidence to trust you and in turn be open themselves, you have to just let people see the real you. This can be especially tough when you've been treated poorly by customers.
• Perseverance - you just gotta keep trying. Knowing that mistakes are part of the learning process, and that each customer is a new and challenging relationship you are bound to screw up sometimes. It would be easy to fall into redundant patterns of "what would you like" and "have a nice day", but you know how trite it sounds coming out of your mouth. Never quit trying.
i hope i've given you something to think about for the next time you are with a customer. or even the next time someone is serving you. But now i'm interested in how you define Great Service?