A friend of mine recently opened up a new bank account. The bank employee was helpful, but spent most of the time chit-chatting about upcoming travel plans and “watercooler topics” while inputting my friend’s details into the system. It was pleasant, but it also dragged on and made her late for her next appointment.
She was told that the new debit card and checks would arrive within a couple of days. When nothing surfaced, she called the bank. Lo and behold, the bank teller had put the wrong address and my friend’s bank card and personal account details had been sent to a stranger! She then had to go back to the bank and wait 30 minutes before she could correct the address, block the old card, and order new materials.
Though the bank employee had given her “good customer service” by being friendly, my friend couldn’t help thinking that if he had spent less time making small talk and more time focusing on the information he was inputting, the mistake never would have occurred. Ultimately, my friend felt like she had received poor customer service because the cards had been delivered to the wrong address and she had to spend more time fixing the error. She put it this way: I need a bank account, not a new friend.
As an image and etiquette consultant, I often praise the value of providing good customer service. However, the best customer service is to be efficient and do your job properly. Being polite and upbeat and flashing a genuine smile is great. Just be considerate of the customer’s time and needs, and don’t lose focus of the task at hand.
For instance, I often see airline ticket agents trying to banter with travelers who are desperate to catch their flight, while a long line forms behind them. These agents may think they are offering good customer service, but given the situation it would be better for them to be pleasant but also quick and efficient to help the traveler get on his or her way rather than complimenting their luggage or going on about the weather. Trust me—if you miss your flight, you won’t be fondly remembering the agent’s anecdotes about their last vacation.