Intro by Skip Cohen

I love sharing Shep Hyken’s archived posts because they’re all about Customer Service. Outstanding service is your not-so-secret weapon, and it’ll put you ahead of your competitors. It takes so little to make your customers feel special. You know how to focus your camera; well, this is about focusing your attention and making each client feel like they’re your most important customer.

It often takes so little and can be as simple as a follow-up call just before their order’s delivered. Or, as Michele Celentano has described herself, she’s a full-service photographer, often showing up with a hammer, picture hooks, and a level to hang the family portrait she’s done for a client. 

And the concept extends into phone and email inquiries as well. For example, a customer calls and asks, “How much are your 8x10s?” The answer should be a series of questions that include other sizes, packages, restoration, color vs. black and white, and the list goes on and on. Best of all, it’s all soft-sell as you help them better explain their needs.

The bottom line is simple – excellent service is about exceeding customer expectations and making working with you a great experience.

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Copyright © MMXIX, Shep Hyken – Used with Permission

The other night my wife and I met three other couples for dinner at a nice restaurant. The food was great, but the service ended on a sour note. Our server got lazy. His attitude toward the end of our experience reminded me that sometimes people don’t do what is requested – or even expected – simply because they don’t want to make the little extra effort to take care of their customers. Let me share what happened.

At the end of the evening, the server asked if we would like to split the check four ways. That’s how I typically do it – just divide the check by four. However, one of my friends had a special request. He said, “I ordered some expensive drinks and an extra appetizer, so I’m sure my portion was more than the others. Would you mind splitting up the check based on what we ordered?”

The server thought about it and said, “I would, but I can’t remember who ordered what.” Then he added, “By the way, for parties of eight or more there’s an automatic 18% gratuity added.”

Now, I didn’t mind how the check was split, but I did mind how he responded to my friend’s request. He remembered well enough to make sure that the right person received the right salads, appetizers, main courses, and drinks. How could he suddenly claim amnesia?

My wife knew right away what was going through my mind, and I knew what was going through hers. She was praying that I wouldn’t say anything, and I didn’t.

But here I am today, still thinking about what happened. It was obvious to me that the server was too lazy to take a few extra minutes to split up the check. It was a slow Monday night, so time wasn’t an issue. He just chose not to do it.

Honoring an inconvenient request is one thing, and probably not expected. But doing something small that takes little or no extra effort should not be a big deal – especially when you’re depending upon a nice gratuity for the effort. But, even that shouldn’t matter.

One of the nicest expressions of appreciation to a customer is giving them a little extra time. Sometimes it’s time on the phone to explain something. Sometimes it’s spending a few minutes building rapport and a better relationship. And sometimes it’s just doing a little math to split up a check.

The point is, don’t be lazy. Don’t take the easy way out. You don’t necessarily have to go the extra mile, but consider going the extra inch. It’s almost always noticed and appreciated.

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