Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Excellent customer service in a most unlikely place

The consistently best example of good customer service that I receive is found in what many people would consider a most unlikely place  . . . the U.S. Post Office.  Yep, that's right, the USPS.  If we could clone Mel, we could completely change the reputation of the postal service and set a new standard of excellence in customer service for all other industries.

Mel works at the post office in my hometown, Fairhope, AL.    I have never seen him be anything but witty, delightful, efficient and competent.  His  pony-tail and earring are the first clue that he's not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill postal worker. I don't care what kind of day you're having, when you step away from Mel's window you cannot help but have a smile on your face.  Shoot! I have a smile on my face if I even get to stand at the window next to his and be served by one of our less-charming USPS employees!  Just overhearing him interact with a customer brightens my day. 

Some customer service staff buy the affection or loyalty of the customer by over-serving them, giving them more than that for which they are paying.  It's a bit of the "Robin Hood" syndrome where the employee steals goods or services from the "rich" employer to give to the "poor" customer.  They give away goods and services for which they did not pay themselves in order to gain the approval of the customer.  I have no respect whatsoever for that but that's not Mel's mode-of-operation.  It's not like he charges his customer for parcel post and then ships their package priority. . .  I'm pretty sure that the USPS has made that nearly impossible.  He earns the respect of his customers by being consistently pleasant, advising them of all of their options, and making good recommendations, when appropriate.  And he always does it with a well-executed bit of wit, not some nauseating cutesy act, just a slight and appropriate injection of jest.

Unfortunately, I've seen an ample dose of attitude served up at our post office by another employee there but you'll never get that from Mel.  No matter how unprepared or uninformed the customer when they reach Mel's window, he always treats them with kindness and respect.  If necessary and appropriate, he'll move the customer to a vacant window with instructions on what they need to do, while keeping the line of customers moving efficiently.  He'll bring them back to complete their transaction and then send them happily on their way.

I'm generally opposed to the notion of human cloning but if we could successfully replicate Mel, I might could be convinced to change my position.

Who are the customer service employees that delight you and how do they do it?

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