Marcus Grodentz shares tips for providing a great service and having excellent examples to share in job interviews

I’m very sorry that I don’t know the answer, but I am going to go away and find out. I will then call you back myself and give you the information you need.

This was the response I got from a member of a company’s customer service team when I called with a query. As you can imagine, I was impressed! Furthermore, the person I was talking to volunteered her name and her direct line telephone number so I knew I could get in touch again easily, if necessary.

Outstanding customer service is what makes any business or organisation rise above its competition. Going above and beyond. Going the extra mile. Over-delivering on service.

We don’t see it very often, which is why it is memorable when we do. If you want to create a lasting impression, it’s my view that you’ll achieve this through your approach to work, and through serving your colleagues and customers.

Why Is Great Service So Important?

I’d like to believe that all businesses have a set approach to customer service and that it is consistent across the business, however large or small that might be. Sadly, that is not the case. I have seen significant differences in levels of service within the same organisations I have worked for.

I remember being touched by a video I saw of a talk by Simon Sinek, author and motivational speaker. In it, he spoke about interviews he had with several military personnel. These were men and women who had been awarded medals for saving colleagues in conflict situations at extreme personal risk to themselves. When asked why they had risked their lives for others, their answers were all the same.

Because I know that these people would have done exactly the same for me.

The military manage to install this ‘esprit de corps’ – a strong regard for the honour of the group – into all its personnel, whatever their rank.

Simon drew a parallel with business and, more noticeably, the corporate world, where no one must risk their lives for another but where this sense of communal spirit is sadly lacking.

I remember taking a phone call from a colleague in my corporate days asking if I could deal with a caller who had a general query. I knew my colleague could have handled it.

I asked her why she was passing it along to me. She told me that her manager didn’t like her dealing with any queries that were not specific to her work. He said it wasn’t what she was paid to do and affected meeting the department’s targets. She was specifically told not to deal with them. She was told not to be helpful.

My colleague was uncomfortable with this. She had wanted to help and did not like passing the caller to me. She felt it reflected badly on the organisation – and she was right.

What is the secret to making your executive happy and to making yourself stand out? Here are some tips for providing a great service and having excellent examples to share in job interviews.

What Can You Do to Provide a Great Service?

1. Fully understand the goals

Understand the goals that your executive has both personally and for the business. Then do everything you can to support them.

Every business or individual has one thing they want to be known for. Is it the drive or desire to do what they do? Is it to be the best at what they do? Is it to produce the best product or service or the most efficient product or service?

When you understand this, then you can see how you can provide the necessary support.

Doing and saying the right thing that supports these aims and ideals – walking the talk – will mean your executive has increasing confidence in you. Your colleagues will notice you and what you say. You will grow in both confidence and stature.

2. Be helpful

Be the person who says yes. That doesn’t mean being subservient. It means being helpful. Be at the front of the line. Offer to do jobs. Then do those jobs to the best of your ability. Help colleagues and be supportive. Give praise to others. Thank people who have helped you.

It is important for common sense to prevail. There can be a fine line between showing initiative – and overstepping the mark. Saying yes sometimes means giving a caveat. ‘Yes, I can do that for you – but not today’. Give a time frame that is realistic.

3. Be reliable

Do what you say you are going to do and do it on time. Be there when you are supposed to be. Turn up for work on time or even early. Don’t be late for meetings and keep people waiting. Meet your deadlines. Don’t make excuses.

Reliability creates confidence. People know you are someone who will do what you say, give honest answers and provide solutions and alternatives rather than just raising problems.

4. Be happy

We all like being around happy, positive people. Your executive is no different. Don’t be a moaner. Don’t keep complaining to your executive or others about things. If you are not happy in your job, the answer is simple – leave.

5. Keep learning

If you are new to a job, start learning and keep learning. Ask questions. Understand what’s going on. Even if you have been in a job for a while, don’t think you know everything. Times move on and you need to keep pace with modern approaches and changes. ‘We’ve always done it that way’ is not the answer. Be prepared to look at the new and improved.

6. It adds up to leadership

All these qualities and attributes add up to leadership. Anyone can show leadership and demonstrate those skills. Be a leader so that others can follow your example.

There is a story of a Japanese gardener whose duties included raking a gravel drive. He could have made sure that the gravel was evenly spread around and left it at that. But instead, he created the most intricate patterns. His duties might have been considered menial, but he took great pride in doing that job to the very best of his ability.

I started life as a junior in a newspaper office. One of my duties was to make tea for everyone in the newsroom. I warmed the extra-large tea pot with hot water before I put in the tea bags. I made sure all the mugs were cleaned and that the reporters had biscuits. Everyone looked forward to the morning and afternoon tea breaks.

Conclusion

Doing the small things well results in being given opportunities for additional responsibilities and opportunities for promotion, as well as great testimonials.

And finally, if you don’t know an answer, be sure to find out. Remember the customer service person I spoke to with a query? She found the answer and called me back when she said she would. It should come as no surprise to hear that the company got a great testimonial from me, as well as referrals and my repeat business.

By putting a laser-like focus on service in your role, you’ll give your executive excellent support, help your colleagues and boost your career.

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Marcus Grodentz is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and ... (Read More)

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