Every single person that walks through your door is experiencing top-notch service in other aspects of their lives, so they’re going to expect it from you, too. We asked our friends and coworkers for examples of amazing, memorable service they had experienced, and then we tracked down the people who provided it. Meet James McCracken, Sandie Fuller, and Steve Klingler. They all know a thing or two about the importance of keeping their customers happy and coming back for repeat business.
What do you do?
James McCracken: I help people make decisions about which Nespresso machine is best suited for their needs while also educating them about the brand.
Sandie Fuller: I am a Service Advisor at Burnsville Volkswagen.
Steve Klingler: I’m a manager, server, and bartender at Chiang Mai Thai in Minneapolis.
How did you get here?
McCracken: I’ve been in marketing and technology my entire career, beginning with Best Buy and Schwan’s consumer brands. I began working for Nespresso as a part-time job after moving to the Twin Cities to start my own marketing agency. I’ve really enjoyed the experience and the opportunity. I’ve been a Nespresso club member for over five years and a part of the brand for about six months. I love helping customers discover the brand, the great coffee, and the machines.
Fuller: I ask myself that every day! I have been in the automotive business since I was able to hold a wrench in my hand. My father was in the business all his life. I’ve been at Burnsville, Minnesota, VW for 18 years this July. I needed to fill some time during the day when our daughter started school, so my little brother—who at the time was the service manager here—hired me for a part-time filing clerk position. I came on full time after my husband was injured at his work and was not able to go back. I’ve been in the service end of the business since the late ’70s and would not trade it for anything else.
Klingler: I’ve been in food service and customer service jobs for 20 years. I ended up at Chiang Mai Thai through a reference from a friend, and worked my way up once I was inside. I’ve been here for 12 years now.
What’s the most enjoyable part of your job?
McCracken: One of the great aspects of the brand and the concept of the boutique is helping club members understand how technology can improve their lives. I always try to give the customer an unexpected experience—whether it’s spending extra time with them or encouraging them to try something new.
Fuller: Having the customer understand that I tell them the truth—that they can trust me—and making them feel appreciated. I often start out a phone call to a customer with, “I can’t sugarcoat this and I am not able to give you CPR over the phone.” This puts them slightly at ease because they know that what I’m about to tell them isn’t the best news. If they ask a question and the answer is yes, I give them a “ya sure, you betcha.” If something is broken on their vehicle and they get me on the phone, my response is “uffda.” I’m much better speaking to someone in person because the hands and mouth will always be going and I like speaking to them in a personable, conversational tone. I always make sure my customers have a positive experience, and if they don’t, I need to know about it so it doesn’t happen again.
Klingler: I love making lasting connections with new customers who become repeat customers and, eventually, a part of our restaurant’s family. I’ve seen people have their first date with us, then come back for their anniversary, then their rehearsal dinner, and now they bring their kids in. Knowing that we’ve kept them not only satisfied but also loyal is a huge reward.
What does good customer service mean to you?
McCracken: Whenever someone asks about a product or service or how something works, I always try to answer in a way that is most appropriate for them. Few customers will outright ask you, “How will this help me or make my life better?”—even though that’s the information they are seeking. It’s up to us to help them answer that question by asking questions and actively listening.
Fuller: It means knowing that I have told the truth and treated the customer the same way I want to be treated. It also means seeing them leave the dealership with all their questions answered and with a smile.
Klingler: Good customer service means anticipating people’s needs and trying to help them navigate possibly confusing situations in the most convenient way. And obviously, making sure that they’re happy with their experience. If there are any problems while they’re in our care, fixing them as politely and efficiently as possible is key.
How do you go out of your way to keep your customers happy and coming back?
McCracken: A long time ago, I worked with a sales professional who was a master at making customers leave with a smile. He was great at asking questions and delivering tailored presentations to best suit a guest’s needs. I’ve always felt that it’s a lot more fun to work in a place that creates memorable experiences than simply taking orders and ringing up sales. Customers are practically begging to be asked good questions, and it’s easier to take the time early on in the sale rather than making up for a bad assumption later on.
Fuller: I try to simply be myself and respect the customers. I don’t feel this is going out of my way—it’s just whoI am. I love getting up in the morning and coming to work, and am thankful to work for a great company with awesome coworkers.
Klingler: Dealing with food, there are often situations in which the customer feels that a dish isn’t adequate, or was made incorrectly. Sometimes food takes much longer than our guest anticipates, due to business flow or server error. First off, communicating with the guest early on really helps us out. In the example of food taking a long time, we’ve always found that telling the guest up front that we’re a little backed up in the kitchen keeps them far happier than waiting and apologizing afterwards. The more informed a guest feels, the more empowered they are, and therefore happier. If we’ve made a mistake or the guest isn’t pleased with their food, then we attempt to remedy the situation, either with a new dish, or by bringing out some free dessert. It’s always better to eat a little cost now to ensure their loyalty in the future.
What advice do you have improving customer service?
McCracken: One of the best sales professionals I ever worked with was never afraid to tell a customer, “I don’t know, let’s find out together.” I noticed she would always outsell the so-called “experts” who were really good at dumping information but struggled to make a connection. She did this by asking the right questions. In many cases customers didn’t know what would really work best for them so she helped them figure it out. By being humble and asking questions, she would uncover great information and would make great suggestions that lead to future sales. It allowed her to give the customers a great experience.
Fuller: Listen to your customers. Treat them the same way you want to be treated, and get to know them by taking time to talk one on one with them. You can learn a lot if you feel and hear what the customer is saying. Always have a smile on your face because that is something that is always appreciated by the customers.
Klinger: Primarily, treat your guests like you wish to be treated. Be polite and smile often. People like to feel like their opinions are valid, that they’re being heard and that they can trust you. So give them all of the pertinent info, listen to their needs, and then do your best to help them in a timely manner.