You have likely witnessed when customer service has gone wrong. It could be they were having a bad day, it could be the systems or process wasn’t working, it could even have been a lack of training or heaven forbid they simply didn’t care. So why does it happen so often?

We are exposed to various sources that tell us it is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one. So why do we continue to see poor service?

Companies are constantly striving to find a competitive advantage and promote, through staff growth and development, the need to be customer focused. If it is that simple, again, why do so many still lack a true customer focus? The problem is likely to be measured by how much time do I have for the staff member and for the customer? But I feel for true customer focus to occur you certainly need time, but you also need skills and most importantly you need to be willing to listen.

So, how can you provide all these things and still deliver on your desired results?

You make sure you motivate, encourage and support your people to genuinely care about the customer. Put simply, if you can engage your staff through effective communication, you manage the performance and encourage self-development, then your customers will benefit. I have recently seen this occur and it got me thinking, if this business can do it, what hinders or stops others doing the same.

I was recently in Strahan, on the West Coast of Tasmania. Strahan is a small town, 270km from Launceston and 300km from Hobart, with a dark and fascinating convict past set on the edge of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. It is nestled on the shores of massive Macquarie Harbour and is the gateway to the World Heritage listed Franklin–Gordon Wild Rivers National Park.

The town has a diverse range of activities, with most centred-on tourism. This is where I witnessed what I can only rate as exceptional service. After a day exploring Macquarie Harbour we ventured into an establishment, looking for a good meal and a cold drink. We were greeted with a friendly smile and a simple but as I found out, a genuine question of, “How was your day?”. It was pleasing to hear and see the body language match the delivery. I replied appropriately and we began to talk and discuss the day’s adventure and what was planned for our next day in the West Coast Wilderness. This all happened while they continued to prepare our drinks. This ability to what was effectively multitasking ensured we not only received our drinks but also some new ideas for the next day. I offered my thanks and settled in for what had now become a great end to our already amazing day.

This back story is important because what happened next is what 8 out of 10 of us do, we went back the next night. To our pleasant surprise, the same team member was working and their smile was again on display. The difference this time was the question that started the conversation. It was not “how was your day?” but “how was your day on the Wilderness Railway?” The fact they had remembered from our previous night’s brief conversation was amazing, made me feel valued and clearly demonstrated they were listening.  It certainly became obvious that they truly enjoyed their job and this was reflected in their actions, attitude and willingness to truly apply a customer focus. It is only one example but highlights that is can be done and is there for all organisations to strive for.

It appears this organisation has taken the time to encourage their staff to interact with the customer and make them feel welcome. The skills required to ask appropriate questions, actively listen and still complete what you are employed to do requires managers to coach, develop and support team members. This of course takes time. I believe though it is time well spent when you see the positive results it can generate.

So, if an objective for your organisation is to retain customers and get repeat business, the customer needs to feel valued and feel listened to. This is a consistent result identified in customer service surveys and leads to their likely return and this in the long run means your business succeeds. It just takes a little time and support to deliver a customer focused employee.


  1. 19/07/2017 at 9:30 AM

    Richard…you are absolutely right that it takes effort to provide effective customer service. Ironically however, rarely more effort than it takes to provide bad service.

    Ultimately, if we provide the service we expect ourselves, it is a good place to start. Your example in Tasmania is a great one. Not only do the consumer and business benefit, it makes the employees role more fulfilling and interesting. A win for all!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Richard.

    • Richard Powell-Reply
      20/07/2017 at 4:53 AM

      Thanks Steve. It is something I truly believe in and 100% agree that we should start with the service we expect ourselves. The problem though is I feel our personal standards continue to drop as we receive bad service. It takes examples like this to reinvigorate my faith in people getting it right.

Leave A Comment