I recently changed the garage that I use. It wasn’t because of their work.

I happened to call into another garage to get tyres and have a 4 wheel alignment, something my usual garage didn’t do. The people in this new garage were friendly, called me by my name when I came to collect the car and seemed a lot more personable and interested in my little gripes about my car and life.

My previous garage however couldn’t have been less interested in me. After five years of visiting them, they still treated me like a stranger every time I called in, and almost couldn’t look me in the eye, let alone engage in conversation.

So I moved to someone who I felt valued me more and appeared to want my business. Nothing to do with the quality of the work.

What I’m getting to here is, people will make judgements about you and your business, not just based on what you actually do – but how you look and come across, and how you react to them; whether on the phone or face to face. And if you don’t make the grade they will move on.

But there are baby-steps you can take that will help you start to focus on ‘the customer experience’ that are not difficult to implement and could save the day.

Here are selected customer service ‘baby steps’: quick-win improvements you can make to improve your customer experience and elevate the quality of your customer service, from customer service consultant Micah Solomon:

When the phone rings, start aiming to answer it immediately. See how close you can come to answering within three or even one ring.


Answer tweets immediately as well; answer emails within two hours or better. Important: In the last hour of business, strive to answer all emails immediately, to avoid leaving customers hanging until the next day. Don’t misuse the hour ‘end-of-day’ guideline to allow you to not respond to everyone before business closes, even if your response needs to be, “I’ve received your note and I’ll be sure to address this first thing in the morning.”


Put a mirror at each phone user’s desk to cue them to smile when they’re on the phone. Smiling adds treble and other pleasant cues to the sound of a voice.


Figure out a ‘buddy-check’ system to ensure nobody is assaulting customers with onion breath, cigarette breath, or the cigarette scent that can linger on clothes when you return from a break.


Stop being on time. If your hours are posted as “We open at 8.30am,” showing up right at 8:30 isn’t good enough, for two reasons: First, because service begins when the customer makes contact, not when the business chooses to make contact with the customer; and odds are very good that your most engaged customers will tend to make their appearance a bit before 8:30. Second, when you aim to open at 8:30 on the dot, it’s inevitable that you’ll find yourself opening at 8:32, :33, or:34 out of inertia or sloppiness before long. So, keep those hours posted as ‘opening at 8:30’, but tell yourself that you really open at 8:15am.


Prominently post the positive letters you receive from customers. Read those positive letters aloud at your employee meetings as well.

There’s lots more you can do, but making a point of doing these few things may change your thinking and focus.

Image courtesy of forbes.com

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