Like most people, I have become wary of the customer service in most establishments these days. Maybe it’s because of our impersonal communication. Perhaps it’s because so many people feel overwhelmed with their own worries. Maybe it’s due to a lack of effective hiring and training. Whatever the reason, customer service has become more of an adventure.

That’s why I was so pleasantly surprised when dropping off my wife’s car at the autobody shop this week. Jack greeted me with a smile and asked how he could help. After I told him, he said, “May I offer you a cup of coffee?” I declined, but he pointed to the Keurig machine in case I changed my mind.

Then he said, “This must be a pain in the neck for you.” I told him it wasn’t that big a deal, but was a bit time consuming. He assured me he’d do everything he could to minimize the headaches. Then he spent about 45 seconds explaining how the process worked and asked what questions I had. I had none at that point, so he walked me out to the car. He took about 15 minutes to assess the damage and build an estimate on his tablet. As he did so, he narrated what would need to be done, from disassembly to re-assembly to paint and polish. That put my mind at ease. I would not be leaving the car in the “black hole” of auto-body repair.

When he was finished, he told me he would be taking a few days of vacation and that Gary would be covering for him. But rather than just telling me, he called Gary over for a couple of seconds so we could shake hands and I could put a face to a name. You may wonder why I’m making such a big deal out of this twenty-minute encounter. Two reasons. 1) It has become increasingly unusual. 2) It didn’t take any extra effort. Jack offered me coffee. Let me know that he empathized with me and introduced me to Gary since he was going on vacation. Would I recommend Jack and his team to someone else? I have already.

Over the years, I have dealt with numerous body shops and service firms. Pretty much all have been competent and stayed with the budget. What sets Jack and his team apart is that he has developed an empathy for his customers. He has learned to anticipate the emotions associated with dealing with decisions, such as spending thousands of dollars in repairs and with leaving your car with a bunch of strangers.

How about you? Do you and your colleagues empathize with your customers and anticipate their concerns? If so, do you communicate that clearly so they know you understand those concerns? It doesn’t require a lot of effort to do so. But it can make all the difference in the world when you’re asking customers to make big, expensive decisions.

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