Ted Rubin breaks down why the act of customer service is the only time you have your customer’s undivided attention – and why you should be on your A-game when that opportunity arises.

It is very, very rare to have your customer’s full attention. No matter how good your marketing is, people are still thinking about the food in the oven, the letter they have to mail, or the game they watched last night. Even when someone comes into your store, they’ll be focused on the products they came to see. So assuming you have the right stuff and it’s easy to find, you won’t get much chance to tell them anything else.

But when a customer comes to you with a question, a concern, or a problem – that’s when you have their full attention. And it’s your best chance to make a lasting impression. Will you grab the opportunity?

Be the hero

Let’s look first at the customer with a problem. If a customer is angry about something, then their most urgent concern is getting that issue resolved. The way you do so will either strengthen your relationship, or send them scurrying for the competition. The last thing you want to do is waste their time.

No matter how large, small, or inconsequential the problem may be, they care about it, and they want you to fix it. Give them good results, and a positive customer experience in the process, and they’ll remember it much more than any sale or marketing materials. It will stick, because at that moment your business has their full attention. It is the best chance you have to build your brand.

“Every customer is unique, and not every customer service attention opportunity will fit into a neat little category.”

Your brand or business is what you do; your reputation is what people remember and share.

A question presents a similar opportunity. Whether on social or in person, a question is a chance to build a deeper connection with that customer while their attention is on you. How well you listen, and how thoughtfully you answer, will determine whether you keep their attention for long, and if you can continue to build a long-term relationship.

Be authentic

Every customer is unique, and not every customer service attention opportunity will fit into a neat little category. So regardless of why the customer needs your attention, you have to listen to them intently. Customers are smart. They can tell when you’re reading from a mental playbook, and when you’re actually responding to them as individuals.     

There’s also a lesson here in the benefits of empowering your employees to provide great customer service, which will build and power your brand. An employee who’s well trained in how to interact with customers will understand your company values – and have the common sense to improvise when needed. That’s a major asset. When an employee has the power to do something about a customer’s problem, they’re far more likely to make a positive, lasting impression.

A positive customer experience is about so much more than just what happens when a customer walks into your store. The interactions that occur when someone needs something from you can make all the difference in earning that customer’s long-term business, their advocacy and their referrals.

So remember – the only time you have your customer’s full attention is when they’re looking for customer service. Don’t miss that opportunity… 


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