I had two fantastic demonstrations of customer service [a while ago], both left a huge impression on me.

Customer service Numero One

Being a coffee nut I decided to try out a bakery/coffee shop in town that had been just off our radar. My lady and I strolled in to order our respective brews and were met with the following:

Me: “We’d like a large skim latte and a cafe au lait please.”

Owner: (Snooty) “What is your understanding of a ‘cafe au lait?'”

Me: “Excuse me … my understanding? … (you’re the coffee shop).”

Owner: “Well I don’t usually make them … ” From her attitude, I was expecting a “you horrible little man” to be added to this sentence. “I’ll get to it in a moment”

Me: “OK” (sort of).

We chose a table and waited a few minutes as she: walked into the back; served another customer; took an order on the phone and then started serving a gentleman who arrived with a huge bakery order. We were now at 5 minutes and my ADD self started to twitch. She then proceeded to sit at the table next to us and took copious notes with the guy and his checklist.

“Lemon bars, apple turnovers, brownies… let me check with my baker … ”

After two more minutes, we got up and left.

Customer Service Numero Dos

I visited a local health food business that blew my mind. I was greeted by the friendly owner who met me with a hug and a smile that made me want to open my arms and wallet. I listened to her for the next few minutes as she served and took care of her other customers. It was as if they were precious family members, each visitor carefully treated with a passion and knowledge that left me in awe.

I purchased a couple of items and as we settled up she said the following:

“I have a gift for you but you must close your eyes!”

I dutifully closed my lids and nervously awaited my prize. She then read aloud a prayer of blessing to me. Now I am not a particularly religious person but the power of this simple gift left me stunned.

I thanked her and left knowing that I would be back.

The coffee shop lost me as a customer.

This got me thinking about servicing customers. How many businesses are truly in business to serve? How many businesses see customers as a nasty reality of being in business? It seems obvious, but all too often this subtle difference is totally lost on company owners.

“This would be an awesome industry if it wasn’t for those pesky customers.”

So next time a client asks you to serve them, are you going to do the right thing or the left?


About the author: Phil Gayter

Phil Gayter

Phil worked as a creative director at global giants Leo Burnett and Euro RSCG in Chicago. He currently has a brand and creative consultancy called Brandstorm, and helps clients of all sizes find their voice and correct pant size.

This article was first published by Phil Gayter