Can I Get You Anything Else?

A few days ago, someone in the office told us a story about finding what looked like a bone in their son’s canned vegetable soup. Gross, I know. The story went on to be a classic tale of a customer having a problem, contacting a giant organization, and feeling like their call for help echoed into the unknown abyss of bureaucracy.

Geno swung the pendulum the other way and told us about a clothing company he ordered a small item from who actually got on the phone and called him directly when they realized the item was out of stock and that he needed to re-order it.

I started to think about customer service and how difficult it is to fully staff a strong service program, and perform really well, really consistently. I thought, “more people on staff really would make this a whole customer service thing a whole lot easier.”

But that’s not necessarily true, is it?

Last night I took a random trip to a small mountain town for dessert in a cozy little cafe. When the brownies and ice cream were gone and our glasses were empty, the waitress asked a simple question that caught me off guard:

Is there anything else you can think of that you need?

I think what surprised me was that the question actually made me consider whether I needed or wanted anything else. Remarks from servers so often seem to be formalities. And many times it seems that they hint at the conclusion of the meal by saying, “Can I get you anything else,” at which point I sometimes feel like asking would inconvenience them and they’re ready to turn the table.

It was a small statement that made a huge difference, and I think it reflects the most important aspect of customer service: mindset.

Manpower answering every phone call, or even proactively calling customers, will only go so far if we don’t understand the weight of each interaction.

It’s so easy for me to slip into seeing interactions with the clients I work with – whether over email, phone, or in person, as stepping stones towards year end goals as opposed to opportunities to help solve problems for real people who have come to us for creative help.

Perhaps changing the way I think begins with less, “Can I get you anything else,” and more, “Is there anything else you can think of that you need?”

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