Customer Service Is More than Just Being Nice

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Amazing Customer Service

We don’t want to be known for having the nicest people. We want to be known for having the most helpful people.

Tom Knox, Vice-President of Retail and Business Development, Ace Hardware

Last week I had the privilege of presenting a speech to the fine people at Ace Hardware. As usual, the focus of the speech content was about creating customer service – actually amazing customer service. Tom Knox was one of the corporate speakers. The comment he made about nice versus helpful really resonated with me. Anyone can be nice. But he wants more. He wants his people to be nice plus knowledgeable. The combination adds up to the Ace brand promise, which is to be the helpful hardware store.

Have you ever done business with anyone where the people were extremely nice, but you didn’t get what you wanted? You might argue that the people are “so nice,” or that “they try so hard.” But in the end, they don’t get the job done. I’ll argue that nice and not getting the job done is better than not nice, but it still isn’t good enough to keep my business long-term. Nice might earn the company another chance or two. But in the end, no matter how nice the people are, if you don’t get what you want or need, you’re going to eventually do business somewhere else.

And, just as important, if the people at a business are knowledgeable and not nice, you go and find another place to do business. Sure, there are some customers who will put up with lousy attitudes and non-appreciative people, but the majority of customers would like the total experience, which includes nice people, who know what they are doing – and by the way also sell a quality product or service. In all of this, I have to make the assumption that whatever the company is selling, it does what it is supposed to do.

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For Ace Hardware, the formula looks like this:

Nice + Knowledgeable = Helpful

Helpful is what Ace wants to be known for. That’s their brand of customer service. Helpful creates confidence and confidence leads to repeat business. In other words, it leads to loyalty.

So, what do you want your customers to say about you? The point of this lesson is that great customer service is more than just being nice and having a great attitude. It’s a total package. Define what that total package has in it and you’ll find your customers are happy, confident and willing to come back.

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