Customer Service: No Detail Too Small

Great customer service is largely about effective communication.  There are many do’s and don’ts when it comes to gaining the trust and loyalty of your customers and clients. With that said, consider the following:

Small things matter: Listen to customers when they tell you what they want. If a customer says they don’t like tomatoes or onions in their salad or they want dressing on the side, give it to them the way they want it. Did you ever notice that when your meal comes out and it doesn’t match what you asked for, the waiter or waitress will inevitably say, “Oh, sorry, I didn’t write it down” or “I had it written correctly, I guess the kitchen ignored it.”  Don’t ignore it, because small things matter. A lot.

Maintain a positive attitude: Your positive attitude will be contagious and will put the customer at ease. The opposite is also true. A negative attitude will be picked up right away. If you don’t feel good about yourself, it is hard to feel good about the people you are helping.

Solicit real feedback: Don’t be afraid of a customer expressing concerns or problems they are having with you or your business. Encourage them. This is an opportunity to show how much you really care.

Make a meaningful connection: The most irritating thing for a customer is when they are made to feel like a number and not a person. Even if you are efficient when dealing with customers, they need to be recognized as individuals. This is particularly challenging for toll collectors, bank tellers and telephone operators who deal with dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of people a day.

Keep it simple: When dealing with customers, talk in an easy to understand, jargon-free fashion that they won’t have to work overtime to comprehend.

Empathize: Ask yourself this question: If I were a customer in this situation, how would I want to be treated?

Actively listen: When a customer is angry or disappointed with you or your company, make sure you actively listen to his or her entire complaint or objection. Fight the urge to interrupt because you want to “fix” the situation right away. Customers want to be fully heard.

Feelings matter a lot in customer service: Price, location and selection are all important. However, by far the most important factor that determines what kind of relationship you will have with a customer is how you make him or her feel.

Be grateful: Never underestimate the power of a smile and a “thank you.”

Your frame of mind is critical: If you see your job as simply a way to earn a living, it is going to be extremely difficult to treat customers in a special way. Customers know when you are going through the motions.

Keep your promises: Excuses for not delivering a product or service as it was promised often fall on deaf ears with customers. Barring truly extreme situations or emergencies, all promises to customers must be kept. If they cannot be kept, it is your responsibility to communicate that to the customer, not the customer’s responsibility to find out after the fact.

Make it part of your DNA: Great customer service is not about any campaign or initiative to show that you appreciate customers. Rather, it is a way of life and an attitude that is built into the way you deal with people on a daily basis.

Steve Adubato, PhD, is the author of five books including, "Lessons in Leadership.” His sixth book, "Lessons in Leadership 2.0: The Tough Stuff," will be released in summer 2023. He is an Emmy® Award-winning anchor with programs airing on Thirteen/WNET (PBS) and NJ PBS. He has also appeared on CNN, NPR and NBC’s Today show. Steve Adubato's "Lessons in Leadership" video podcast with co-host Mary Gamba airs Sundays at 10:00 a.m. on News 12+. For more information visit