Remember good old fashioned customer service? I had the chance to revisit this idea recently when I keynoted the Four Seasons Women’s Conference put on by the Bluefield, West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. The theme was Remember When and boy, oh, boy did they have fun with it. Everywhere you looked there were women in poodle skirts and bobby socks (the 50’s), bell bottoms and fringe (the 60’s), tie-dye and hoop earrings (the 70’s) and big hair, big earrings and big bows (the 80’s). Even this eighties lady sported leg warmers and Madonna gloves while she delivered her keynote! For one day I was a material girl. Ha!
In terms of customer service, we got nostalgic. We had fun with some old advertising slogans. Remember when the Maytag Repairman was the loneliest man in town? When Manicurist Madge assured her customers about Palmolive by saying “you’re soaking in it?” When we all ran around asking “Where’s the Beef?” or impressing our friends with our version of “Two All Beef Patties, Special Sauce, Lettuce, Cheese, Pickles, Onions on a Sesame Seed Bun!” (Oh, yeah, I still remember)
As I prepared for the speech, I got to thinking about what it means to give Good Old Fashioned Customer Service. Shall we take a little trip down memory lane?
Here are 5 customer service lessons we can learn from the past, to deliver good old fashioned customer service.
- Deliver It: Some of us (ahem, me) are old enough to remember the Milkman. That’s right. A man came to your door once a week and delivered your milk, in glass bottles. You’d leave your empties in the milk crate on your porch. (Yep, those crates you use to organize your files, were ACTUALLY used for milk at one time.) He knew your family by name and you looked forward to his visit because, if you were lucky, he’d bring ice cream too! Home delivery is making a comeback today! You can have everything from books, clothes, groceries, restaurant meals, and even health care brought right to your home. Could your business take a tip from the Milkman….and Amazon, and deliver it? For instance, I love when I receive hot and gooey cookies in the lobby of my hotel. However, I squealed with delight when cookies were unexpectedly delivered to my room by the staff of one hotel.
- Do a Little Bit More: Pump your own gas? What? It was virtually unheard of until the late seventies, early eighties. Prior to then a gas station attendant would come out to your car, take your money (cash), and pump your gas for you. While he was “filling her up,” he would wash your windows!! Truth be told, I miss those days! The window washing was a little extra thoughtfulness and is such a great example of good old fashioned customer service. What’s your version of “Do a Little Bit More?” That little extra, in the day of self-service, may be just the thing to differentiate your company from the rest!
- Make It Fun: Then there is K-Mart! Remember the Blue Light Specials? I do!! If you’re like me, you loved shopping with your Mom at K-Mart, especially when they would announce the blue light special. Mom, my sister Julie and I would rush around the store trying to find the flashing blue light which meant something was on sale. What a great way to make the shopping experience fun, with a discount to boot! What could you do to make the experience more fun for your customers?
- Answer the Phone: Back in the day, when you called a company on the phone (during working hours) a real live person answered! You may have called the Operator first (one, ringy, dingy!) or looked the number up in the yellow pages, but either way, after you dialed someone would answer. We’re a long way from that being the norm and automation isn’t going away anytime soon. However, in a day when the time it takes to get a real person on the phone can be so frustrating, you can differentiate your company by making it easy for your customers. At Red-Carpet Learning, our team is spread out and always traveling so we use Ruby Receptionists to make sure our phone is always answered by a cheery person who can either get to us or take a good message we can return promptly!
- Learn and Use Customer Names: When I was a little girl, there was a store on the corner owned by a man named Freddy. I don’t remember the actual name of the store because we just called it Freddy’s! It was a right of passage to cross the busy street without my Mom to go to Freddy’s and buy candy or whatever. I personally posted construction paper posters about my talent shows on the bulletin board and stood outside the store each September with a tennis ball can collecting money for the Jerry Lewis Telethon. Best of us – we were KNOWN at Freddy’s. He knew every family in the neighborhood and greeted us by name when we walked in. There is nothing like feeling “known” to make you want to come back again and again. A simple way to make your customers feel like a part of your organization is to know them, use their names, and greet them with a warm welcome back!
What about you? Comment below and let me know what you remember? What does good old fashioned customer service look like to you? I’d love to hear from you below.
Donna Cutting, CSP is the Founder & CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc., a firm which helps organizations engage their teams to raise the bar on the customer experience. She’s the author of two books (with a third in the works) on customer service, including 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet For Your Customers. For more information about how Team Red Carpet can help you bring back good old fashioned customer service, call us at 828-202-8702 or email STARS@RedCarpetLearning.com. P.S. Donna does not typically wear Madonna Gloves and hot pink leg warmers when she presents. Unless you want her to. 🙂