Can Australians Lead Customer Service?

Whilst enjoying the gorgeous Noosa on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland I couldn't help but build a mini database of customer service experiences. When you bring twelve women together, who gather once a year - they are generally interested in a few specific activities: talking, drinking champagne, eating, shopping, sightseeing and more talking. 

Most of these activities involve a degree of customer service (and whilst I don't intentionally mean the academic use of the word degree - I am leaning in that direction). Some levels of service was outstanding and others were relatively good - there were limited complaints.

My database did spit out something interesting though - those that were on the exceptional end of the customer service continuum were not Australian. Yep, that's right.  The Aussies were doing a nice job of balancing the continuum.

By far, the French speaking Noosa folk won hands down - they led the customer service tally board and a smattering of other Europeans followed. (Most had only lived here for a few years.) In one case we were in the hands of a French woman who looked after all 12 of us for two hours and it was a memorable event. (And we know women will share this event story numerous times over.)

So, can Australians Lead Customer Service? [Pause, reflect, refer to your database, analyse, think.]

In actual fact, they can and they are. I suspect given our conversations that those delivering the customer service, didn't own the business; they were hired because of their talent to work in the business and be the customer interfacing folk. Good leaders hire folk who are better than they are; people who are right for the role.

If you delve further into your database who do you believe is leading Customer Service in Australia? I believe Telstra are doing a great job - they are totally consistent across all stores and on-line. Your thoughts?

What do you expect as a customer?

I bit my lip and counted to 10 yesterday while visiting an iconic Melbourne store. It was busy on the floor, there was a queue forming and one person serving - luckily it was me being served. Well, lets say me and four other people who telephoned the store and who were politely attended to immediately they rang ... and made me wait ... four times!

Am I mad? Yes. Should I be?

Back in the good 'ol days ... did I say that?! Let's just say when I was 'serving' and then training people to serve, we tried, we researched, we observed and we learnt that the action which most irritated customers when serving them is to start serving another person ... on the telephone!

That was some time ago, so I'm happy to be brought up to speed on the 'latest' on customer service. 

I appreciate customer service but oddly enough I go out of my way to look after myself rather than be in the hands of someone else. I prefer to cook for others than dine out, I shop on-line for loads of our goods, clothing and travel and these days I shop at the supermarket, use the register and pack myself!

I'm struggling at the moment using a travel agent to manage our OS holiday. Last year I spent too much time on the holiday project so I challenged myself to allow someone else to do all the work. We've not met, just communicated using email (very slowly) and its been over a month and we still haven't booked anything! I know I should have just done it myself.

As a customer, I expect:

  • attention - on me, no one else (absolutely focused)
  • answers - to my questions, queries and concerns (within an acceptable time frame)
  • additional information - more than I expected or asked about (the value add equation)

Am I asking too much?

I liken this service to being a leader. When you're leading, you're serving your people - you give them your full attention, you don't answer your phone in the middle of an important conversation - you answer their questions and offer ideas and approaches or just the reassurance that you're their to support them.

Rant over!



Do you appreciate customer service?

It’s an old fashioned term for some however I really appreciate customer service and I'm a raving fan when it’s ‘great’ customer service.

So, when you encounter amazing customer service, in your own home town, you really want to yell and scream & share!

Over my long weekend in Melbourne  the services was consistently consistent and only the odd surprise of unwelcome poor service reared its head! I don’t eat out frequently, so when I have to pay for food & service I have great expectations.

This is what worked, consistently:

Rewarding us for attending – being on-time at a function and trying out their service was really appreciated by businesses - they even knew my name!

Going out of their way – making things happen to really make our event special (at no extra cost)

Listening & remembering exactly what we said – yes, they listened to us and we didn't have to repeat ourselves (I think they were eavesdropping!) 

Nothing was an issue – with continuous genuine smiles, we couldn't make that smile budge from their faces – and when we had a few wines (yes, we were on a ‘girls weekend’) I'm sure we were annoying.

In particular, we were very surprised at Myer – their service was superb and George Calombaris’ team at his very new Gazi restaurant treated us like royalty and finally, MECCA – amazing.

Do you have people using these descriptive words in their feedback or commentary about you: good, great, amazing, consistent, continuous? I hope so or you need to take a lead and make it happen!