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Customized customer service

Your favorite family member, Darla Allen, just visited her mother. While leaving, she gently pointed out a minor error in her mother’s care and assured you that it was no big deal. Then she thanked you for the great job you were doing, and left with a smile.

Boy, I wish I could clone this one, you think. Why can't every customer be exactly like Ms. Allen? She's so nice!

Sorry, but unless there's a scientific breakthrough, you will not be able to clone your favorite customers. The fact is, no two of your customers are alike; they have different personalities, ethnic backgrounds, appearances, physical capabilities, and communication styles. They also have different requests, needs, and expectations of our center’s care and services.

However, our customers do have something in common: the desire--and the right--to have their needs fulfilled professionally and completely. Here's how to offer customized service to each of our customers.

*Appreciate each customer's uniqueness. Let customers know by the way you talk with them that you and our company regard them as people, not as account numbers. For example...
--Use customers' names where appropriate. Just make sure you have their permission to call them by their first names before you do so.
--Mention personal issues they've discussed with you, such as a child's recent acceptance into college or their participation in a bowling league.

* Accommodate customers' unique needs. For example, arrange your schedule around customers with time constraints, appointments, or physical limitations. Adapt your communication style to communicate clearly with hearing-impaired customers.

* Respond willingly to unusual requests. Think of a way to fulfill even the most challenging request. Remove the word "impossible" from your vocabulary.

* Learn from co-workers. What extra touches do your most successful partners provide that give them an edge in ensuring satisfaction? How could you give these ideas your own special spin?

* Keep up with changes in your field. Learning about new trends and approaches will help you to better meet customers' individual needs.

You want to give all customers the same great level of service. But that doesn't mean there's no room for creativity in your approach to individual customers. In fact, creativity isn't just nice; it's a must if you want to be an excellent service provider.

Remember: All customers may not be created equal, but they have an equal right to receive the best service you can give. And wouldn't your job be boring if your customers were cookie-cutter replicas of one another? So enjoy the challenge of accommodating a wide range of customers. Think of customer variety as the spice of your (work) life!