How good is your personal customer service?

I hate it when I go through the express line at the grocery store and throughout the course of the transaction, the checker never acknowledges my existence except for handing me my receipt.  I’m not looking for a neck massage or a moist towelette here, but is a “hello” and a smile really that much to ask for?  Apparently so, more often than not, and when this happens I don’t walk away having a favorable impression of the store or the employee, which can influence my future purchasing decisions.

Now flip that around onto yourself.  We all interact with many, many people throughout the course of a day.  Phone calls, meetings, emails, IM’s, purchases in stores, it adds up to a lot.  With each of those encounters, now think about how favorable an experience all those people have with you on a given day.  Did they find you friendly or cross?  Were you polite or did you brush them off?  All of these interactions, both big and small, are what the rest of the world bases its impression of you on and since you never know who the next person is going to be that has influence over you it’s a good idea to have really good personal customer service.

Disney theme parks are known for their excellent customer service and in an effort to measure it, Jeff Kober over at Mouse Planet ran an interesting experiment, sharing his results in an article entitled “How Many Cast Members Do You Interact With Each Day?”  During the course of a day at Disneyland recently, which happened to include a significant Southern California earthquake, he interacted with 75 different cast members.  That’s a lot more than this grizzled veteran of 50+ Disneyland trips would have thought and it’s a lot more chances to make an impression than I would get in my typical work day.

How was he treated at this place known for great service?  His observations were very interesting and provide some insights on how we can all do better with our day to day behaviors.

Out of those 75 Disney employees, the face of that global company for Jeff’s day at the park, how many were polite?  He defined this as, “a very low threshold of simply saying, ‘Please,’ ‘How may I help you?’ or ‘Thank you.'”

Only 27.

You can certainly make an argument that as cast member pay has gone down, so has the service, but that is true across all service industries and Disney still stacks up pretty well reputation-wise.  While Disney may be riding off of old successes here, another way to look at that if a company (and by extension, a person) is polite 36% of the time it can be perceived as positive relative to competitors (I’d imagine the number at a Six Flags park is much, much lower, for example).

Map that back to your personal customer service.  If you are friendly with 1 in 3 people you interact with, meaning you open a door for someone, simply greet someone with a good smile, or being courteous in an email reply, and you are at about the same level as an industry leader.  How tough is that, really?  Not very tough at all.  Think about how many people you interact with on a daily basis and the various media you interact with them in and there’s lots of chances to make a good impression.  As the Disney example shows, the bar isn’t that high and meeting it can pay good dividends.

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