What Does Customer Service Have in Common with a Car Wash?

One day, ensconced in my car on the conveyor belt of an automatic car wash, I noticed the sun play a trick through my windshield. The light refracted exactly right to create an amazing collage of blues, purples, and greens that mixed with the white, soapy bubbles. The image was worthy of a frame. Moments later, as the conveyor belt pulled my car deeper into the concrete tunnel of the wash, the color vanished, replaced with dirty brown water. These two moments represented only snapshots in time, but the impression I had changed in a split second.

Your “guest” (customer, client, patient, or patron) has this same experience every time he or she interacts with your team members. We call this a “Guest Encounter” and it is just like the snapshot in time from the car wash. This fleeting encounter impacts the overall guest experience and often dictates the report card you receive after the sale has wrapped.

How much attention do you give to improving your encounters? Does your team work to improve the body language, the word choice, and the engagement level needed to ensure your guests feel valued? Remember, customers take ALL encounters into consideration when judging service, not exclusively the frame-worthy snapshot.

An entrepreneur, keynote speaker and author, Laurie Guest, CSP is a “go-to-resource” for customer service excellence. For more than two decades, she has shared her practical point of view on customer service and staff development with audiences and companies across the country, blending real-life examples and proven action steps for improvement. Her latest book, The 10¢ Decision: How Small Change Pays of Big, presents her most sought-after and impactful strategies to find and retain the best staff and highest-quality customers while delivering exceptional guest experiences.

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