What makes a customer service quote inspiring?
Let's consider who needs to be inspired and why. If you accept the premise that excellent customer service is at the heart of customer retention, it follows that the people providing service are the ones we'd like to inspire. (It also helps if they have the tools and training they need, are compensated appropriately, and have supportive managers who regularly gives them helpful feedback… but I digress.) Being inspired is a good thing so I decided to share five quotes that I've been told by people who provide customer service —on the phone or in the field—inspire them to deliver great service.
Here's one about customer service that a lot of people like:
"Service, in short, is not what you do, but who you are. It is a way of living that you need to bring to everything you do, if you are to bring it to your customer interactions." – Betsy Sanders, Fabled Service
I've used that quote on a slide in training (Forgive me Guy Kawasaki! It's more than six words.). When I do, I always change the font color for "not what you do, but who you are" to emphasize that phrase. What the quote says to me is that I can't fake having a customer-oriented attitude. Sure, I can smile and say 'please' and 'thank you' but eventually if I don't really, truly, wholeheartedly care about my customers, they're going to see through my veneer and they'll be disappointed. Happily, I am customer-oriented and service-oriented but I think this quote is a real wake up call. Customer service comes from within. We'll be successful only if we take a genuine interest in our customers and solving their problems.
No one likes to give customers "bad news" so the following quotes are meant to inspire when things get tough:
"We cannot always oblige but we can always speak obligingly." – Voltaire
I like Voltaire's point (and I bet it sounds even better in French). My interpretation is that even if you have to tell me "no" or "not now" you can do it in a humane way. I experienced this recently when I called Chase's Insurance Department for my 88 year old godmother. I won't bore you with the details of forced flood insurance, out of whack escrow and skyrocketing mortgage payments. What is important is the man I ultimately worked with gave me his full attention, listened, let me vent, empathized with the situation, showed great patience and let me know exactly what "we" needed to do. He couldn't oblige me immediately but he obligingly stayed connected until the crisis was resolved.
Along the same lines, here's another quote from an inspiring source:
"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echos are truly endless." – Mother Teresa
The following quote speaks to that simply and purely.
"When in doubt, tell the truth." – Mark Twain
Truth is good. I'm all for it but I think it's important to recognize that the truth doesn't have to be delivered like a bludgeon and that telling the customer what you can do rather than what you can't do is a more productive way to present the truth. We call it using Positive Language.
Finally, this next quote is also attributed to Mark Twain again. It always makes me smile.
"Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest." – Mark Twain