Customer Service - why 'old fashioned' still works the best


I grew up in a small country town and customer service was almost always provided by someone I knew. I had a conversation with that person, I gave that person money and they gave me the product or service I was after. Names were used throughout the process and maybe pleasantries about family and perhaps a quick discussion about a current event in the town. It was easy and it was friendly.

One of the joys of living in a small country town - you are surrouned by people who know you.

One of the challanges of living in a small country town - you are surrounded by people who know you.

Providing bad customer service in a small country town had consequences; you would have to interact with your unhappy customers outside of the workplace - not great if they are your sports coach, team member or potential boy/girlfriend’s parent!

When I shopped outside of my home town, it was strangers who I gave money to and that made the interaction different. Some strangers were nice and straight away treated me as a friend but others barely looked at me and didn’t seem to want to talk to me, if I could find them.

Their service provision made me feel like I was an interruption to their day. I would leave feeling annoyed or even angry and not wanting to go back - ever. Sound familiar?

There is a reason people still ache for ‘good old fashioned country customer service’. Customers are people and it’s your teams’ people skills that are the key to delighting all customers - wether we know them or not.

Below are my 5 tips for motivating your frontline to deliver ‘old fashioned’ country style service.

  1. Remind staff. Face to face needs eye contact and over the phone needs tone and every situation needs the use of customer names.

  2. Remind them why it matters. The moment staff lose a focus on delivering excellent service, is the moment they need to make time for customer complaints. Who has time for that?

  3. Encourage assessment. Excellent customer service is having a goal of making everything easy for customers. Encourage your staff to assess what they do with the aim to identify ways to make things easier.

  4. Applaude excellence. There should be daily examples of customer service excellence happening across the business and staff should be recognised and thanked for making it a prioity. A verbal ‘well done’ about a specific customer action, is like water to a plant - necessary for growth.

  5. Show what you know. Practise what you preach and inspect what you expect. If you don’t, staff will wonder why they should.


For more ways to help your team keep their customer service skills sharp, download the first Chapter of my book for free.


By Cate Schreck