The Power of the Coffee Cup

Do you have one of these?

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Okay, this really isn’t about a coffee cup. It’s a post about customer service and the difference quality customer service can make. You know, the kind of service that stays with you long after you’ve left the store or hung up the phone.

The service you find yourself talking about with someone over lunch several hours later, or maybe the next day. Service that compelled you to leave a $20 tip or write a 5-star review on Yelp. The best way I can describe the service is the feeling of an emotional connection.

You left no longer feeling like just another customer. Intuition tells you there is something deeper that does not exists with others. You feel special. If you’re a manager, this is the type of service you long for your team to provide on a consistent basis.

Good customer service is no longer good enough.

I first heard that statement 30 years ago when I worked in retail banking and the playing field has not changed. After three decades, companies continue to expect exceptional customer service, but – in reality – good customer service remains the standard. So what’s the secret sauce for exceptional customer service?

Treat your team like they are your customers.

Goals and objectives will help a manager achieve good customer service, but these are not the ingredients for exceptional customer service. Most companies have metrics in place for customer service. As an exceptional leader, you need more.

You need to have that same connection with your team as you expect them to have with their customers. Each member of your team needs to feel special. To feel relevant. To feel appreciated.

Rather than having the mindset your team works for you, start working for your team. Don’t be on the lookout for mistakes. Be on the lookout for wins. Acknowledge success when you see it.

Be their cheerleader. Promote them to those above you and beside you. Let your team know the confidence you have in them, and they will begin to breathe confidence in themselves. They will begin to go the extra mile.

And when this happens, acknowledge their wins even more. Create a wall of fame, invite them to lunch; tell them how proud you are. Soon the customer service pendulum will swing wider. There will be more wins.

As coach John Madden once said, “Success breeds success.”

Seeing your team as the customer does not release them from accountability. You’re not giving up the house. Just like the restaurant manager, you hold the “right to refuse service.” Some customers may be asked to leave, but decisions are always in the best interest for all concerned.

So, why the coffee cup you may be wondering?

The mug was actually the inspiration for this blog. It was a gift from a restaurant manager for, in her words, “I was one of her favorite customers.” Of course, this in turn sparked a Yelp review, a LinkedIn recommendation, and even a handwritten Thank You card. The emotional connection was made, all by way of a coffee cup.

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