UNLOCKING TRUE POTENTIAL 
Picture the scene if you will -. A Saturday afternoon in Oxford with a little retail therapy, I walked past a well know high street chocolate shop, known for its good quality chocolate. 
 
I advanced towards the chocolate counter, eyeing up the choices from which I could choose. However, because of the relaxed mood I was in, I couldn’t make a quick decision on my purchase…so blow it I thought and I asked the very pleasant lady behind the counter to give me two of each chocolate she had on display in a bag please…then I asked if she could repeat this order so that I could share with these with friends. 
This is where things became a little bemusing for the assistant 
 
Having established I wanted four of every chocolate but split in to two lots of two, she went off to get a bag. Upon her return, she kindly told me she only had a small sized bag that wasn’t going to fit in all my chocolates. A dilemma indeed, so I confidently at this point said ‘oh well I’d really like to buy all of those chocolates…’, ‘yes, but the bag isn’t big enough’ came the assistant’s reply. 
 
What followed was a few awkward seconds where the assistant and I simply looked at each other. The silence was broken when the still pleasant, if less helpful assistant said ‘umm well yer. I don’t have any bigger bags.’ So I offered a suggestion of using more than one bag to hold the chocolates. 
 
‘Oh yes ok, but you will need four bags…’, ‘umm well yes I suppose it will be ok, but I might need to charge…well I’ll check’ came the reply. 
 
And so eventually I left with my four bags of chocolates and went on my merry way. 
 
Upon reflection there were a number of other ways that interaction could have happened. Most of which would have left me with a more memorable experience and moved the whole episode on more quickly…but is this a reflection on our current climate where our employees aren’t encouraged to be solution finders, or is it more that employees are reluctant to react beyond the normal procedures for fear of being ‘in the wrong’ later? 
 
If excellence in customer service is the sign of a good company and the art of repeat business, and good PR, then possibly we should look to follow some simple guidelines in our businesses and with our employees to make sure that everyone can deliver an experience to be proud of. 
 
Excellence in Customer Service is often about the small things: 
 
If something’s gone wrong get in there first if you can, a quick apology goes a long way. 
Do what you say when you say you’re going to do. 
Value your customer - thank them for their business a simple Thank You Card arriving in the post – gets a lot more attention than a auto responder email. 
Empower your staff, and yourself. Don’t get so wrapped up in the process that you can’t deviate to create a WOW. 
Create an environment where customer service is in the DNA of your business. 
 
Michael Heppell – writes simply but powerfully about customer service in his book “Five Star Service” – I recommend you read this book, I did around 7 years ago and still remember fully the chapter on creating Wee WOW’s. 
 
Let this be your lesson in customer service; don’t wait to find out the hard way. 
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