I love giving excellent customer service. I love receiving it even more. I love it so much that I devised a few ways to prime someone so I receive that caliber of service.
If you also prefer better customer service -- which I'm assuming you do -- read my tips below:
Eye Contact First and Often
In the first Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi told Daniel-San, "Always look eye." He meant it. The first path to great customer service is sustained eye contact and a smile. In this world of constant distractions and phone screen addiction, it's easy to see why both sides of the equation forget this one. However, I've never failed to get a smile back if I persist in keeping their eyes on mine, and keeping a big smile on my face until I see theirs. (Sometimes, I swear they smile back from fear. This is primal, but I accept either usage of a smile.)
Go Off Script
Most customer service was built to be scripted. It's a pity, but it's the "lowest common denominator" mindset of management and is sometimes the Pavlovian response of employees forced to shred away their typical self-nature. You can fix it pretty quickly. Pull them off-script. You pull up to the front desk of a hotel, road-weary and ready to hit the room for your $7 water bottle, but instead of just saying, "I've got a reservation for Leonard Cohen," say instead, "I was thinking of sleeping in the lobby. Could we make up a little bed over there? Well, either that or a penthouse upgrade. I'd settle for either." And smile. (Always look eye. Smile.) Try it. Just once. Pretty please?
A Little Less Conversation
One risk in this method is if you get too chatty. Customer service people are on a timetable. They are measured by time. If you dig too deeply into their clock, they're going to get antsy. So, do some fun off-script things, but be aware of the clock.
It was a great motto for the Boy Scouts, but you can borrow it. When I pull up to a hotel, I hand over my credit card and my ID before they ask. This often gets me an extra smile, because I've made the other person's job a little easier. You can do this all over the place. For instance, if I want more iced tea, I put the glass closer to the edge of the table (if possible). If I want to ask about my auto insurance premium, I get my policy info ready. When you ease the customer service person's efforts, it comes back to you in benefits (most times).
My Favorite Trick: Post-Jerk Reset
Has this happened to you? You're in line somewhere, and the person in front of you is a total jerk. You can read in the customer service person's face that they're frustrated and still feeling the heat of that previous transaction, and you have every sense that it's going to transfer onto you. Here's my trick:
Empathize. Help him or her get it out. Say something like, "Phew. She was having a bad day." Don't go too deep into it, because misery loves company, but let your service person take a bit of it out. Oh, and smile-and-eye-contact. You're the good person in this equation.
The problem with customer service is that the masses dull the edges of these otherwise brilliant humans. It's a grinder of a job, and if you've ever done something in the world of customer service, you know.
Image credit: meanest indian