Customer Service: Take the Extra Step

Today I e-mailed J., one of the interns in our office, to ask where on our shared drive a certain report was stored. He responded and told me what folder to find it in, but he also attached the latest version of the report to his e-mail.

J. showed that he’s already learned something that many people never do: One of the major components of good customer service is giving the customer what he or she asked for, plus one more thing.

That one more thing could be extra napkins from the restaurant worker putting together a carry-out order and realizing that a particular item could get messy; or it could be the customer service rep at the computer company advising about reinstalling software but also providing a direct phone number and e-mail address to contact in case the problem happens again; or that one more thing could be J.’s answering my question about the report but also giving me the report itself.

What J. did was think beyond my actual question to consider what the reason for my question may have been. He happened to guess right: the reason I asked where the report was stored was that I wanted to look at the latest version. But even if he’d guessed wrong, what he did was a thoughtful gesture and would have been appreciated as such.

Next time someone asks you for something–whether information or something concrete–take a moment to analyze why they’re making the request and what else they might need besides the exact information or item they asked for. It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to do this; that’s why my title above is “take the extra step” rather than “go the extra mile.” You don’t always need to go a mile to provide good customer service. Just take that one step.

Does this all sound incredibly obvious to you? Then you’re probably already doing it. But if this is a new concept to you, and you think it seems a bit silly because how could one little thing make any difference, try it on a regular basis and see what happens–to your efficiency, to your relationships, and to your reputation.

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