Can a service mindset be taught?

This is kind of a ‘Service 101’ lecture, but I feel as if I’m talking to myself sometimes, reminding myself of what I believe… but, also, as we try to spread the brand globally, I think it’s good to have some form of reference in place. What should one expect from a Green Ink service representative?  It’s more like handbook content.  Or maybe it’s just a simple refresher course for you?  

If you don’t enjoy doing it, don’t do it.

Have you ever waited tables?  Ever been a desk clerk?  A receptionist? A masseuse? If not, you might not be a good prospect for being a service rep or producer for a production team.  It could mean you’ve avoided working with the public so far because you just don’t have a service mentality. No problem. You’ll find other things to do: count beans, assess the hunting grounds, create the decorations or something equally valuable other than delivering a service with a smile.

A person should be smiling if they want to – not because they have to. If you’re missing an inner joy for whatever reason, then I’d think a service job is not for you. It doesn’t mean people who don’t want to serve can’t be shiny, happy people, but a positive spirit is certainly a prerequisite to the service mindset.

It’s presumed you have to ‘like people’ to be a service provider. I’d disagree. I think you need to respect them. And that can’t be faked.  People especially know when you don’t respect them.  In business-to-business service, the customer – the one with the money and the need – must be served. That’s the respect I’m talking about. They are the boss. They’re the ones who call the shots. I’ve loved that this has become a saying I’ve seen a few times recently: the customer is the reason for our being in business.

My all time most inspiring service provider is a man from Barbados who welcomed us to our rental house as our caretaker:  “I just want to make you hoppy.”  And he meant it.

Reel service…

Video production itself is a ‘service’.  We’re not charging for a ‘video’ per se (a la NetFlix). We’re charging for the service of creating it; of developing a practical approach to production, a winning creative, a sensible schedule… each a step in a customized process designed to create 100% customer satisfaction. Each step in the process is a service.  

A Marketing professor from Tuck said something like, “You don’t need to be your client’s best friend. If you think they need a best friend, buy them a stuffed animal. Your job is to provide them with something that they value.”

If we’re doing it right, our customers will have that same sense of value one feels after having received a great meal from a top chef, an effective massage, or a successfully chartered fishing boat.  I like to think I’ve learned something about service from each of these and so many more services I’ve been fortunate to receive.

Sometimes, we’ve received a service and we don’t even realize til later that we’ve received it.  I think that’s probably when it’s done best.

It’s not about you.

Clients will often love to hear about your past successes and they want to know they’re in the hands of an expert, but don’t assume the client is looking to you for intelligence or entertainment. We’ve all seen sales people who feel the need to convince us of how worldly and smart they are and never once ask what we’re looking for. I know I’ve been that guy, but after 26 years, I’m still working on that one.

Our customers should know they are in the hands of experts who are ready to listen to and understand their desires, and to help them realize them. If they’re already working with you, they don’t need to be impressed by your background. They need to be impressed by your understanding of and support of their needs.

Some tips for better customer service…

Most of these are stolen from somewhere and anyone who knows me knows I don’t practice all of them all the time.  Especially this first one…

1. We’ve been given two ears and one mouth.  Use them in that proportion.

2. A smile and frown are equally infectuous.

3. Input should be acknowledged and clarified at the time of its receipt.

4. The client is not always ‘right’ (and sometimes they’re their own worst enemy), but they should always get what they’re willing to pay for.

5. It’s best to anticipate a client’s questions and provide as many answers as possible before they’re raised.

6. Anything you can do to show you are empathetic to a client’s pain/needs is helpful.

7. If something doesn’t go as expected, be honest and, most importantly, communicate early and often.  There’s nothing worse than a production problem that is compounded by ducking phone calls or trying to gloss over the truth.

8. Under-promise and over-deliver.

9. Put yourself in the client’s position.  What would you want?  Pretend it’s your money.  Pretend it’s your job on the line.

10. Look for areas of common interest with your client, but don’t fake it. You don’t need to pretend you love infants if you don’t.

11. Find out what is keeping your client up at night – what their biggest worry point is – and help them address that in a meaningful way.

So, that’s my blog for today.  Nothing fancy.  Nothing slick.  I hope some of it might be of some service to you.

Now please share your service tips or examples of service that’s inspired you.



3 thoughts on “Can a service mindset be taught?

  1. Good points, Chip…..and words you certainly live by as we’ve worked together over the years. There’s nothiing I appreciate more than when you and your colleagues challenge us and keep us in check. Too often we’re wrapped up in our work, and too close to the content. Part of the value of working with an external firm, like Green Ink, is to get brutally honest feedback and guidance.

    We don’t need partners telling us we’re right all the time. We need harsh criticisim and creative thinking.

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