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  • Nick Hague and Paul Hague

It isn't rocket science

Our friend Brian served many years as a postman. He was used to getting up early. When the opportunity arose to buy a newsagent shop, he jumped at it. He loved his new job. The 4 AM start was no problem and he enjoyed the repartee with customers coming in for their early fix of cigarettes and the Daily Mirror. At least, he loved it for the first three or four years. Something then happened. Little things began to irritate him. He got fed up with people repeatedly telling him it was a dark wet morning. He had minor rows with people when they grumbled because their paper, through no fault of his own, wasn’t available. He looked at every teenager entering the shop as a potential kleptomaniac. Like many shopkeepers, he had sadly become disconnected with his public.


The general public (that’s you and us we should point out) can be an awkward lot. You need the patience of Job to deal with us. But patience has its limits. When you arrive at the railway station and say a cheery hello to the station master, it might be your first greeting of the day. The station master has already had 50 of these greetings and his morning isn’t going too well because most of the trains are late. He growls a Victor Meldew riposte if you are lucky. It’s a sad but inescapable fact that providing a continuous and pleasant customer experience isn’t easy.


This is why the key to good customer experience is having the right staff in the first place. Brian, our newsagent friend made the perfect postman. He was brilliant at organising himself and the mail. He was happy in his own company walking the streets and pushing stuff through letter boxes. He would have been terrible as a bartender and frankly he wasn’t good as a newsagent. People delivering customer experience need to like people otherwise they will not be able to stay the course.


So who are these people made for customer service? What do we look for when recruiting them? Extroverts have a big advantage. They get their energy speaking to people. We must also look for tolerance and patience. Everyone who is served should be treated as if they are the only customer – the one that really matters. And crucially, our customer service people should be happy individuals. It’s no good employing a cynic who is expecting the worst from their customers because for sure, they will find it. And once we have the right people in place, they need training. Our customer service team need to know what to expect. They need to understand that customers sometimes get hold of the wrong end of the stick and need to be humoured. They need empathy with their customers and show a genuine interest in making sure that they get what they want. Customer service isn’t rocket science, but it is hard work.

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