This Is What Customer Service Looks Like

Jon Stolpe was one of the first people to submit a guest post for my blog, and I have been very impressed with what I've read on his own site. I'm pleased to introduce you to his work, and hope you enjoy it.
– Ray Edwards


This is what customer service looks like! Customer service looks like a jar of spiced apple rings? Yes! Let me explain…

I’m Swedish. As a child, I have fond memories of gathering around my grandparents table at Christmas time to feast on the Swedish Christmas culinary traditions. We ate my Grandpa’s Korv – a Swedish potato sausage. We ate my Grandma’s Swedish meatballs. We ate Swedish cheese, pickled herring, and Swedish breads. As part of the meal, I will always remember my Grandma setting out a dish of spiced apple rings.

Honestly, I’m not sure if spiced apple rings are Swedish. For me, the apple rings are part of the tradition.

My Grandpa passed away several years ago. My Grandma is now 93 years old, and she isn’t up to preparing the Swedish feast. Now it’s my turn. I make Korv for my family. My wife makes great Swedish meatballs. And we try to keep as many of the other traditions as possible. This still includes spiced apple rings.

The weekend before Christmas, my wife sent me to the grocery store to pick up a few final items for the feast. I found the pickled herring, the Swedish cheese, and even some lingonberry jam. But I couldn’t find the spiced apple rings. I searched everywhere without success.

Before giving up, I decided to ask an employee of the grocery store. The employee listened to my story about our family’s Swedish traditions. She proceeded to get a couple of her co-workers into the discussion as they tried to determine if the store had spiced apple rings. After searching a few places, checking a couple of lists, and calling some other employees, they informed me they didn’t have any in the store. I thanked them and headed to the checkout line.

This is where the story took a dramatic turn.

After I paid for my items in the self-checkout line, I started towards the exit. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed someone running towards me from the back of the store. Actually, three employees were sprinting towards me. They shouted, “Sir! Sir! We found it!” One of the employees held the jar of spiced apple rings above their head like the Stanley Cup. They persisted until they found the treasured apple rings.

I will always remember this experience as a huge example of customer service.

What does customer service look like? Here’s what I learned from my experience.

5 Ways To Deliver Customer Service

  1. Customer service starts by being available to your customers. In my experience, the grocery store employees where clearly accessible to handle customers and their questions. Customer service means getting in front of your customers face-to-face or on the phone.
  2. Customer service involves listening to your customers. The grocery store employees listened to me. They knew what I was needed, because they listened to my request and my story. We must listen to our customers, so we understand their needs. Knowing our customers’ needs sets us up to deliver.
  3. Customer service is marked by persistence. The grocery store employees didn’t give up. They kept looking for the spiced apple rings even after they send me on my way. We provide solutions to our customers. Sometimes it takes a lot of time and effort. Don’t give up! Customers will be blown away when they see you kept working hard to meet their needs.
  4. Customer service is marked by an all out pursuit of your customers. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the three grocery store employees sprinting towards me, yet this is how customers deserved to be treated. How are you pursuing your customers?
  5. Customer service means celebrating with your customers. It was clear to me these employees were excited for me and for helping to complete my Swedish Christmas dinner. They high-fived me and each other as they delivered the jar of spiced apple rings to me. We should feel the same way when we deliver our services and products to our customers knowing what we provided were just what they wanted and needed.

The empty jar now sits on my desk at work as a reminder to lead and interact with my internal and external customers with persistence and all out effort. This is the kind of service experience I want to deliver to my customers!

What does customer service look like to you? What is one thing you can do differently or better this week to deliver a better service experience to your customers?

Jon Stolpe is passionate about small groups, missions, family, marriage, parenting, and Philadelphia sports. Jon is also a writer and blogs daily at Jon Stolpe Stretched. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wonderful wife, Leanne, and their two kids. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or his blog.