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Personal experience equals good service

There I was, 10:30 on a Tuesday night, plunger in hand, sweat rolling off my brow. The drain snake lying on the kitchen floor seemed as hopeless as I felt. I had reached my final resort. It was time to call the plumber.

My last encounter hadn’t been all sunshine and lollipops. I could still hear the voice rudely informing me that I was the cause of the issues and had no business being under the sink. As if this was something I didn’t already know.
The next morning I made the dreaded call and was immediately surprised by the cheerful voice on other end. I thought, this isn’t the right number, is it? Sure enough, it was. Four hours later my drain was free and my opinion of the professionals in this field had completely changed.
Who comes to mind when you think of customer service professionals? Perhaps hotel staff or tech support? Whoever it is, I bet it isn’t plumbers. The truth is, any business where interaction with people takes place is in the business of customer service. The two plumbers in my kitchen that day exemplified an exceptional customer service experience.
Great customer service is creating a positive, personal experience for your customer. Creating those experiences takes work and the willingness to spend time getting to know your customer. It may seem the people on your team who provide these experiences are your No. 1 asset; but, the process developed to create the experience may be more important. A solid process helps recognize qualities of great service, identify customer preferences and share information. Making customer service seem effortless, as if you’re doing nothing extra at all, is the ultimate goal of creating a superb experience.
Do your homework. Start by identifying personal experiences, both positive and negative. This helps you recognize what exceptional service means to you. With this comes motivation to create a great experience for others. Doing your homework also means collecting data. In the country club industry, this means seating Mrs. Doe at the table by the fireplace because she gets chilly, and offering Dr. Jones the freshest fish option on the menu first, because you know he especially enjoys coming to the club on the day fresh fish is delivered.
Document your findings. Once preferences are recognized, they must be documented. A fluid communication system needs to be in place so the information can be shared. Whether this is a handwritten notecard in a client’s file or a brief staff meeting to prepare for guests before each shift, information must be shared in order to be useful.
Make it work for you. Put your knowledge to use in an unpretentious way. This means being on your toes while delivering an authentic, smooth performance. People can tell when you are genuine. Be truly interested in learning about people. Take time to ask the customer how their day is going and really listen. Even though you may be running behind on your own schedule, really take time to listen and engage the customer. Only then can you offer a truly personal experience.
So, what will you do today to create that personal experience for your customers? If you take a lesson from the plumbers mentioned previously, you’ll understand what your customer needs, and use your knowledge and background to offer a sincerely positive experience. And, oh, if you ever need the name of a great plumber, please do contact me.

About the Author

Danielle Wagoner
Membership & Communications Director, Lochland Country Club
Danielle is an '08 Hastings College grad with a degree in media production. She began her career at LCC in '07. She serves as the Chair Elect for the Leadership Hastings Board, Chair of the Leadership Hastings Alumni Committee, and Co-President of NETWork Hastings.

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