My mother spent her whole career working at Woolworths, working her way up from a checkout operator to a senior HR manager. As an only child to a working mother and a father who worked shift work, I spent many afternoons after school and school holidays in one store or another.
I just wanted to go home. Everyone else I knew got to go home after school, I had to hang out in the lunchrooms or back dock of a supermarket.
Finally, the end of the day would come. We would be heading out. Bags in hand, backpack on, finally ready to leave. Inevitably a customer would stop us every time to ask where something was “can you tell me where the flour is?” or “do you know where I can find the canned tomatoes?”. Instead of just pointing them in the right direction, my mother would walk them to the isle and to the product on the shelf.
When I think about what adding value looks like, I think of my mum. She didn’t just point people vaguely in the right direction. She made sure they found what they were looking for. She didn’t ignore them because she was the store manager or because she was trying to go home – she stopped to help.
You don’t remember every shelf stacker or checkout operator when you go to a supermarket, but you do remember the person who provided you with excellent customer service. The person who took time out of their day to make sure you had what you needed.
I have always believed in communications, we work in a service industry, just like hospitality or retail. We provide a service to our clients, strategic advice, content development, publishing to a website, media management. They are services we provide. If we can’t demonstrate value, clients will go elsewhere.
If you work in communications, have you thought the service you provide? Can you take an extra step to ensure you understand your clients’ needs and explain what options are available to get the outcome they want? Can you take them to the product?
Customer service was drilled into me as a child, I grew up in retail. It is a lesson that I have taken into my career in communications and tried to instil in the teams I led and in my business. I try to always exceed expectations, deliver more, deliver early, or provide extra advice. I want my clients to see the value communications can bring.
I passionately believe communications provides significant value to any business. Done well communications can tell the world the great things you’re doing and get you out of a sticky situation. However, to be able to do that you need to demonstrate your value, one of the ways you can do this is by providing amazing customer service you provide.