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Customer Service Always Starts With You

I recently spent a long weekend in Toronto. Described to me by a good friend as “a New York City run by the Swiss,” I found it to be much like I remembered from my trip there 30 years ago: clean, safe, interesting, international and friendly.

While trying to grab a metro/subway trip south, we were confused by the signs and the directions. Unwilling to get into the system only to find we had made a mistake at 10:00 pm – we found a man who was working on one of the doors into the underground system and asked him if this stop, would in fact, get us to our desired location. He told us it would and then, standing up. said “Let me help you.”

He walked us back down to the entrance, then unlocked the gate, letting us in (Without paying!!!). He walked us down one flight of stairs, across the platform to another flight of stairs, then walked us up to the second platform. He explained that it’s easy to get confused because the station was a stop for both the north-south train and the east-west train. We gratefully thanked him and were on our way.

Since returning home, I’ve told the story many times. It is evidence to me that Toronto deserves its reputation. The reaction I get form people is “That would never happen here!” And it makes me wonder why couldn’t it happen here?

Everyone has a role to play in customer service and the creation of a reputation. The person (CEO, Executive, Manager, Supervisor, Administrative Assistant, line-staff employee, contract worker, person on the shop floor, janitorial staff member, Customer Service representative, security guard, cashier, sales person, teacher, nurse – I could go on but you get the idea) who really understands reputation -the ‘old’ word for brand – knows that every interaction is an opportunity to reflect well or poorly on their firm/city/self.

I don’t always get the feeling that an organization’s motto is a living credo. I’m not awlays left with the impression that people are acting in support of that motto with every interaction.

  • If people are the most important resource, is there no money for skill development?

  • If professional development is critical to attracting or retaining talent, are there opportunities for growth, mentoring and feedback?

  • If everyone’s input is valued, are senior level folks ensconced with each other and removed from the rest of the workforce?

  • If integrating home/work more effectively is the goal, are some managers allowed to obstruct the effort and the opportunities?

  • If inclusion is the message, do women, minorities, or the disabled feel welcome and valued?

Toronto is a big city with a lot going on and it IS a friendly place. The people I interacted with were helpful and nice. The streets and subway are clean. Everyone has a part in it’s’ reputation and success.

How different is that from where you live and work? What can YOU do about that? And I don’t mean tellsomeone else to do, I mean actually DO!?

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 at 10:34 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.