Tips on Receiving Great Customer Service

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Although I have embraced the world of online shopping it is nice to get into the stores to try on those boots and feel the fabrics. Heading into a shop can be a lovely treat, until it’s marred by poor service. As an Amex Ambassador I had a chance to speak with Toronto Star retail columnist Rita Zekas on what makes great customer service and how you can receive it.

As the Stealth Shopper for the Toronto Star Rita Zekas knows a thing or two about good and bad customer service. Loyal readers often stop her in public to share their shopping horror stories.

“I think we share more of our bad shopping experiences because they are more prevalent,” commented Zekas. “We have come to expect mediocre service and are surprised when we receive good service.”

I tend to agree with Zekas but good customer service, something that sticks in your mind, is more than just acknowledging a customer’s presence; staff needs to go beyond what is expected, making customers feel important. As an example, American Express always makes me feel like more than just Cardmember, offering a breadth of products, services, and experiences. A card that puts me in the ‘cool mom’ category for my daughter’s first concert experience is more than just a charge card.

But as Zekas points out, great customer service isn’t just about the sales staff. We as customers play an important role in the type of service we receive too. Zekas offers these 4 tips on how you can receive great customer service the next time you are out:

Treat people as you would like to be treated. No one wants to be ignored, interrupted or belittled so ensure you don’t treat service staff with such little respect. Avoid texting or talking on your phone when dealing with staff and remind yourself that many don’t set store policies but just follow them. Think of the person you interact with as a mirror of your behaviour. What you project out should be reflected back to you in the way of service.

Try to be engaging. We’re all human and sometimes we have a bad day. Although staff are trained to put their personal issues to the side, sometimes that can be hard. Engaging a staff member that seems a bit off can often change their mood and avoid a poor customer experience for you.

Know what you want. Before you head into the shops know what you are looking for. Nothing can turn a customer service experience sour quicker than lack of communication. If you are unsure what you want, and that is why you are in the store versus shopping online, then let the staff know up front. This helps them to better assist you and deliver a more positive customer service experience.

Share your customer service experiences. If you do experience poor customer service make sure to let staff know. Telling your friends may keep them out of the shop but management can make changes to issues they may not be aware of. Sharing your great services experiences can also be beneficial. If you have an exceptional server in a restaurant or dealt with a staff member who went above and beyond their duty to help you, make sure that service is acknowledged. Let them know and let their manager know as well. Positive reinforcement works in parenting so why shouldn’t it work in other aspects of our adult life.

I especially love this last point of sharing great service stories. Just like you would tell a friend where they could find a great deal on shoes, Zekas recommends sharing with them your great service experiences too. Wouldn’t you want someone to let you know about an amazing staff member or waiter so you don’t have to go through the trials and tribulations of a bad experience? I’m often telling people about my experiences with American Express. While it’s true I am an Amex Ambassador this year, I honestly believe American Express wants their Cardmembers to feel that they are their number one priority. From the experiences they offer members to the way they handle customer service requests illustrates this perfectly and is one reason I continue to use and recommend my card.

We shouldn’t be surprised when we experience great service, it should be expected. The more we share great service experiences with each other, the more we’ll experience great service and those individuals that don’t deliver will have to adjust.

When you experience really great service do you share your experience with the establishment and others? Have you ever had someone go out of his or her way to make your experience exceptional?

This post was sponsored by American Express Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely my own.

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