This was originally written as a response to a discussion started by Amy DeWolf in the Citizen Engagement group, and I realized I had not yet posted this information as an independent post. Thanks for bringing this up, Amy, and here’s the information to share.
Customer service isn’t only about being friendly. If you are really nice to me and can’t answer my question, or give me the wrong answer, that’s not really good service. If you are really nice and can answer my question, but don’t call me back for 2 weeks, that’s not good service either.
Think of great service (in any situation) as a three-legged bar stool. Your customer is sitting on top. If any of the legs are wobbly or broken, what will happen? If the seat is not stable, what will happen? The customer will fall off and the result will be bad service.
The three legs of the stool are: Courtesy (the niceness you mentioned above), knowledge (can you answer the question correctly and accurately) and promptness (how fast do you resolve the issue). The seat represents the systems the organization puts in place to sustain a culture of service (The Six Essential Elements).
In every type of communication (phone, face to face, email, etc.) if you as an individual are focused on that three-legged bar stool, you will be able to optimize your customers’ experiences every time!