#134: Service IS Your Product!

I don’t care whether you make a physical product or provide professional services, service is your product!

Waiting for service

The Bank

I recently had some questions about setting up a bank account for a newly formed non-profit corporation. I headed down to the branch where we do most of our banking in the middle of the morning on a weekday.

As I walked in, I could see all of the new account folks were busy so I sat down in a lobby chair and waited, and waited, and waited. I am not especially good at waiting. No one greeted me. No one said they would be with me in a minute. Even the manager who walked by me failed to say hello. My waiting patience level went way down when I noticed two of the new account people chatting with each other, laughing about their weekend adventures.

After nearly 30 minutes of impatient waiting, I finally had a chance to speak to a representative (not one of the two chatterboxes trading stories of their weekend). He answered my question in about three minutes, and out the door, I went. I got my answer, but I was not a happy camper.

Every bank has checking and savings accounts for individuals and for businesses. That’s their product. But what differentiates one bank from another? Their ability to provide excellent customer service!

The Restaurant

I love going to restaurants for breakfast because it is one of the small ways I can get my busy wife to slow down for a few minutes and relax.

One morning five of us went to a neighborhood, family-owned restaurant based on a recommendation from a friend. It has a nice homey feel, maybe ten or twelve tables. It’s the kind of place where a waitress greets you and says to sit anywhere you like.

So we took a seat and proceeded to wait. And wait. And wait. Did I mention that I am NOT especially good at waiting?

A couple of waitresses buzzed around the restaurant, but it was clear after about 15 minutes that we had fallen into the restaurant version of the Bermuda Triangle. Finally, the waitress who had greeted us pointed to us asked the other waitress, “Are you going to wait on your table?” Finally!

The food was ok, but not surprising the rest of the service provided by this waitress was abysmal. Every restaurant makes food, and if it reasonably on point, the thing that makes me want to come back, again and again, is service.

The Service Gap

I am not thrilled with my bank, and I am not headed back to this particular restaurant anytime soon. Why? Because there was a huge gap between my expectation of good service, and the service they delivered.

I would have felt a lot differently while I was waiting in the bank if I had been greeted by someone when I came in. My impatience meter wouldn’t have pegged in the red if I hadn’t had to watch employees goofing off while I waited. And I would have been tickled pink if the manager had stopped long enough to ask if he could help, or at least assure me that my presence had been noticed.

The issue in the bank is a lack of leadership from the manager. He needs to set an example himself, and second, he needs to train employees how to provide excellent customer service.

I would have felt different about my restaurant experience if our waitress had come by the table to acknowledge our presence, and tell us she would be right with us. If she would have followed that with prompt and courteous service I would return on a regular basis.

The issue in the restaurant may be training, but it could simply be that not everyone is cut out for the hard work of providing good service.

Paul, writing to the Colossians said, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23). That means wherever we work, whatever we do, we should always do our best to exceed customer’s expectations for service.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What do you think about the idea of a service gap? Have you experienced poor service that caused you to stop patronizing a business? How about an example of a business who won your loyalty because of their excellent service?

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Category: Skills |Quality/Excellence

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