What’s the Difference Between Ordinary and Extraordinary Customer Service?


It’s the Little Bit Extra, that Lagniappe, that Creates Raving Fans.

Gail PeltoBy Gail Pelto

The other day I was chatting with my coach on the subject of customer service (or the lack thereof) in business today and just how important “real customer service” is for every business. In today’s business world, there is good customer service that average businesses deliver. Good service is playing not to lose; they do so by doing ‘just enough’ but no more to make clients happy and excited about wanting to return to the store. On the other hand, there are those great businesses and their leadership—the ones that exceed expectations; these are the extra-ordinary businesses and the folks that run them. These are the businesses we love to return to time after time just because the experience was, well, outstanding! As a result, we become “raving fans!”

Now, I’m sure you’ll agree that anyone can learn to do the routine duties of their job, right? For my profession, a good agent should know how to list a home, what questions to ask a buyer or seller, how to put it in the Multiple Listing Service, how to write a contract, etc. But is that truly enough? Well, if you want average, then maybe that is enough. However, I believe, and correct me if I’m wrong, you expect the very best in service, right?

So, what separates the good agent from the great ones? It is the exceptional customer service they deliver. Great agents run businesses and they know WHO their customers are, what they want, need, expect and the know-how to deliver on their promises—and then that bit of Extra-Ordinary Experience. That IS customer service—it’s a MUST!

Who are your customers? Most people think that customers are only those people who buy your services. Au contrere, mon frere; customers are ALL the people you deal with. They are clients that employ you AND it’s the people YOU EMPLOY, the people that walk in your front door and the receptionist who greets them. It’s also your vendors and the people you belong to organizations with. Heck! It’s your spouse and your children. You invest time and money into ALL of them, so nurture those relationships with great customer service.
Customers? They’re everybody! So, what do you do to provide great customer service? What can we learn and apply from those who deliver great customer service?

I’ve been blessed to have been trained in the hospitality business and, as a result, I’ve learned a thing or two from my mentors, my patrons and my clients about “what’s most important to them.”

I’ve learned that we first must come from a place of contribution. “How can I help you?” Then we listen to the answer. We help them. We solve their problem. We strive to make them feel good. Seems simple right? It is simple, but it ain’t easy for most.

Let’s remember that “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” Exceptional service must be lesson number one for all of us. The great department store Nordstrom is well known for being exceptional with their products, service and experience for their patrons. They have two rules. Rule #1: The customer is always right. Rule #2: See Rule #1! If you think about it, we can certainly go to another store with similar products and even pay less for them. But like anything, when we experience exceptional service, we are happy to pay more and go back again and again.

Another example is Amazon. They have some pretty darn good prices. Is that the only reason their stock sells for more than $3200 a share? Nope! We all know, if you want to return it, if you want it the next day or you want to compare to a similar product, they deliver exceptional service and experience.

It’s important to note that all great service starts at the top and trickles down. It begins with the mission of the company, their rules about service and the culture that is instilled in all the employees. Like a 3-legged stool, if there’s a missing leg, it falls down. If a company has a great mission and rules on service, yet they don’t treat their employees with respect, it translates into a failure of delivering the exceptional service we all expect and deserve. The result? Everyone loses!

While on the subject of what we expect… If a service you’ve received is not the best, let them know. If they sincerely fix it, you’ll be one of those Raving Fans. With my clients, I guarantee in writing: “If I don’t perform, you can fire me!” This is what you can count on! Of course, if I blow it, please let me know. I’d love the opportunity to fix what was broken. I can only get better and be an exceptional servant to you and the world I live in.

Final words, if you’re a business owner and you want to be better, if you want to separate yourself from the pack and excel, know your job and focus on great customer service. If you’re a consumer, let the people you buy from know of any issues. If they fix the problem—great! If not, fire them and go elsewhere. There are plenty of competitors to choose from. At the end of the day, you deserve the absolute best, don’t you? If you would like to learn about my “Service Commitment and Guarantee” let me know. Reach out to me. I am at your service, always!

Gail Pelto is a Rotary Club and Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation board member—and yes, a powerful, fulltime real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty Emerald Coast. Call her direct at 850-374-0454 or email Gail.Pelto@kw.com with any real estate questions you have, and she’ll guide you in the right direction. Do you want to know the value of your property today? Visit www.BaysideAgent.com.