It’s customer service, but not as you’d expect…

One of the benefits of training exceutives around the planet is that I get lots of case studies and anecdotes that I can share. Here’s a couple I think you’ll enjoy.

A couple of years ago I was training some small businesses in regional Queensland. Yes, they let a New South Welshman in, but only under certain conditions to do with being the butt of all rugby league jokes during the workshop. This was difficult as I don’t really follow league and didn’t know all the intricate details of the comments.

As part of the exercise on developing a marketing plan, the delegates interviewed their clients for feedback. One of the delegates was surprised to learn that clients thought his customer service was excellent.

Now you may think this is a good thing. The problem for the delegate though, was that he didn’t have any specific customer service staff and hadn’t a clue what the clients meant. He had to get them to explain the alleged service.

Apparently his business received lots of orders by fax (please, we will not judge outback Queensland based on technology usage). The fax is still a popular method of ordering in many small businesses. In fact, if my business offers the fax as an option for booking seminars, many delegates will use it. Unfortunately I don’t know how to connect the damn fax element to my multi-function printer thingo. But I digress.


The business owner discovered that whenever clients faxed an order, his very polite receptionist would ring the client and confirm she had received the order. She then established an agreed delivery time. To her it was just good manners to call. Yet the clients loved this service, as they were never sure if the fax was received at the other end of the high-pitched squeal.

Now if you know the term ‘under-promise and over-deliver’, you’ll know its benefits. Upon learning of this wonderful customer service he was providing, the owner trained his receptionist to agree a delivery time that was just a few days longer than they could deliver.

Then the company would deliver the order earlier than the agreed date and so create an extremely happy client. And I suggest the client was also less likely to argue over price.

I’ve learnt lots over the years by talking with front-line staff, sitting in call centres and more recently analysing search terms and online behaviour. You’d be surprised how many staff have developed their own techniques for making their life easier, which usually involves making their clients happier – by avoiding conflict.

Although it’s a sad reflection on companies that they have treated customers so appallingly for so long, that simple good manners are now regarded as something special.

In the early days of the interweb, a recruitment company in the US realised that most people were looking for jobs during the boss’s time, rather than after hours. Quite rightly, they had expected it to be the opposite.

So they devised a button on their website that was called “The Boss Button”. If you clicked on it, a spreadsheet automatically appeared on the screen. This was excellent customer service, as anyone looking for a job on the boss’s time, could quickly change their screen to a spreadsheet if their boss approached their desk.


That reminds me, I haven’t looked at Seek or LinkedIn Jobs today…


  1. Just have to make one comment … one reason why technology uptake in the bush is slow is because we basically just don’t get access to it!?!?!?!

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