Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Mastering" Customer Service

If you are a golfer, this is one of the greatest weeks of the year—Masters Week. If you are not a golfer,
don’t worry, this is more about customer service than golf.

I was fortunate enough to make the trip to Augusta, GA, home of Augusta National and the Masters, earlier this week for the Monday practice round. Having wanted to attend this
tournament for the past 40+ years, I was excited beyond belief.

The day started at 6:30
a.m. with the drive to the course. We parked our car and headed for the main gate. There we were greeted by one of Augusta’s finest directing traffic (who undoubtedly had been there for several hours). The smile on his face and his
humor in dealing with a crowd that did not want to wait for traffic to clear before crossing got my day started off right.

Once across the street and onto the grounds of Augusta National, everyone we encountered greeted us with a smile and “Welcome to the Master.” I mean everyone—security, ticket takers, marshals, concessionaires…even the guys monitoring the restrooms.

It got me thinking about customer service in our industry. First, let me point out, that each of these folks I encountered is a volunteer. They are not paid to be there. They do it for the love of the game and for the prestige of working the Masters and what it represents. Do your paid employees share this level enthusiasm for your store? Does everyone greet your customers with “Welcome to the Bookstore?”

If you’ve ever watched the Masters tournament on TV, trust me, it does not do the place justice. The grounds of August National are immaculate. Everything in its place and nothing is out of place. I was hard pressed to find a piece of trash on the course or at the concession stands. Again, superior levels of customer service in how the place looks to its patrons.

And in the merchandise shop, as busy as this was throughout the day, the shelves were always neat and organized. We were there at about 3:30pm, during the heat of the day. It was crowded, hectic and hot, but every associate in the shop had a smile on their face and were eager to help find a size, color or item. And again, these are volunteers!

Finally, as we left the course, we were told “Thank you for coming.” What a way to end a fabulous day and experience.

We’ve all been to enough industry sessions to know what good customer service is. But are we making this an integral part of our store and university branding? If volunteers, up before dawn and working in hot 90 degree days or rainy conditions, dealing with rush-like crowds can exude
this “Masters” attitude, I know our industry employees can as well. Have you set Masters-like customer service standards for your store and employees? Do your employees support these standards with their actions? Make sure your employees are “Mastering” customer service on your campus.

Written by Marty Duncan, ICBA Program Manager