Be Nice… The Key to Mastering Customer Service

By Kellie Groover

"Be Nice," and you might just master customer service. Of course it goes much deeper than that.

Customer Rules

Yes, you have to treat your customers nicely, but above all you must BE that.

I recently read "The Customer Rules" by Lee Cockerell, former Executive Vice President for Operations at the Walt Disney World Resort (and my former boss), where he carefully lays out the customer service "secret sauce" in 39 rules.

The overarching theme of the book is that not only do you have to hire great people who inherently embody and value customer service, you have to set them up to be able to deliver that and deliver it well.

You can hire the team that looks great on paper, but if they don't have what it takes personally to be a customer service champion, you're losing out. And that service starts from the top down. Leadership has to emulate that service to the team and give them the training and authority to fulfill customer or client's needs in order to give the best service they can. Of course, if you don't have access to that leadership support, you can still provide great customer service. Attitude- and service-driven performance is infectious. It can start with you, the front line person, and the attitude you emit can spread like wildfire. It is however, the responsibility of every team member, from the CEO down, to be able to provide personal, authentic service.

If you hire passionate people, you won't have to light their fire—it will come from within.

Lee Cockerell

I believe every single team member I work with at Focus Lab is passionate about what they do and how they do it. I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to work at Disney as a front line, attractions cast member during Lee Cockerell's tenure and can attest to the service he set us up to be able to give. Even more, I am grateful that I now get to work with Focus Lab and see the very same aspects out of how business is handled. Erik and Bill take the time to lead by example and to set us up for success, daily. We feel valued and because of that we have been put in the best possible place to give quality service to our clients.

On the flipside, it's more than just attitude and product. You need to be able to listen to what your clients need and anticipate those needs before they even know they need them. Take your offering and make it better.

Sound familiar? (Read more about our standard Make It Better.)

Better is not a destination; it is a journey.

Lee Cockerell

You're never finished getting better. It's best not to look back and dwell on your success, you can get caught up in the past and become stagnant. Look to the future and you'll continue being successful.

In "The Customer Rules," Cockerell also touches on basic values of customer service: listening, being flexible, being available, the value of "surprising and delighting" your guest, even down to how your employees job title can have a positive effect on service. You should strive for the same things it takes to be a good person: treat people how you’d want to be treated, be reliable, don’t make promises you can’t keep, be giving, and if anything, it’s better to underpromise and overdeliver. It’s so simple, yet so many miss the mark. I could go on for days and only retype all of his rules for you.

His 39 rules are fantastic. It's literally like he took everything you've ever heard about how customer service should be - and how you can get there - and put it in one place for you. Every bit of this book is important, and it was truly hard for me to sum it up. ANY person in any profession can benefit from this book. I highly recommend it and know that your company will only prosper by following his rules.