What kids can teach us about customer service
When you are gifted with children a couple of things happen immediately. First, you get first hand knowledge of just how wrong you were about the idea of love. Kids allow you to understand what unconditional love should be like and makes you strive to be a better person, husband, father, employee, human. Second, children show you what you are actual willing to do for another human being. Things you would have never even entertained as a single person, you do without even thinking - parental muscle memory.
Quick! Your child has a runny nose and you are nowhere near a Kleenex, you are going to use your shirt to collect someone else's snot. Maybe you are out to dinner and your child fills a diaper all the way up their back, spilling out every opening in his or her clothing. In a tuxedo you are cleaning that child up because they need you and you are happy to do it. Your daughter experiences her first break-up and you cancel your plans to spend the night watching her favorite show or movie eating her favorite ice cream in hopes of making her feel better.
Are you willing to do the same thing for your customers?
When I talk about surprise and delight this is what I am talking about. I don't mean customer service at the expense of your family life, I mean treating customers like they belong in your family. This is what Gary Vaynerchuk refers to when he says "what is the ROI" of your mother. The answer is immeasurable, what a mother does for a child is something that cannot show on a spreadsheet, just like the ROI of your child. Being a parent is one of the greatest jobs on Earth, so why would you not want your work to reflect how you would treat your family?
Your customer has bad days, your customer needs empathy from time to time. More importantly they want to support a brand that treats them with respect but they want to love a brand that treats them like family. This can be hard because like your kids, sometimes the customer is just wrong and the easy thing is to just let them be wrong. The hard thing, the thing few people want to do, is to help them to understand that they might not be thinking this through and there might be a better way. Similarly when your child makes a mistake, I mean a big one, likely you don't turn your back on them and more than likely you warned them of the consequences - still you find yourself working through a solution. You have clients that could use the same guidance and empathy.
Stop treating customers like they are a modern inconvenience that keeps you from doing what you want to be doing, they are the reason you are in business in the first place. Instead pretend it was your job to help them, give them value, and treat them like family.