In 4-H we are in the education business, the non-profit management business, some days the transportation business, the list goes on and on…
And customer service trumps all.
Now, before you close this window or delete this post– hear me out.
I’ve said repeatedly- people CHOOSE 4-H. They CHOOSE to be a part of our organization. While we may feel pretty strongly that we are a right choice, we have to acknowledge that there are lots of choices out there. Furthermore, even if we have the best “product” on the market, if we have lousy customer service…no one will “buy” from us!
If you google “customer service” you will find a plethora of tips, techniques and strategies. However there are two overarching themes which guide my beliefs on customer service:
- We are here to help the customer, they are not here to make our lives easier.
- A positive attitude is key.
On my first point- be reminded that we have a job to do. We get paid (REAL MONEY!) to do that job. That job is to help people. Sometimes that means we do extra work so that the lives of our clientele is just a tiny bit easier. Perhaps that means simplifying a form, or offering a little extra assistance with completing a requirement. While we can’t do everything for everyone, it is important to remember to seek to go above and beyond to be as helpful as possible to our clientele.
Secondly, most things can be handled in a positive way. For instance- deadlines. Chances are you have experienced the struggle that comes with those who are consistently meeting deadlines. Now, I’m personally an advocate of extending deadlines whenever humanly possible (because I don’t know about you- but my life is busy, and I hope for similar kindness from others). However, sometimes that is simply not possible. Many times I’ve come across a gentle reminder that looks like:
“You have not completed your 4-Honline profile. If you do not do so immediately, you will not show in the fair. No excuses!”
It might be factual, but I would argue it could be a lot kinder (remember- we WANT people to participate in our programs).
In contrast, I was pleasantly pleased to see this reminder from Nassau County on Facebook today:
“Did you remember to enroll for the new year? We still have a large number of youth that are not active. If your enrollment is not active, you are not eligible to show in the fair! We understand how hard your youth have worked to be able to show their animals and do not want anyone to miss out!!! Call our office today if you need help with your enrollment (904-530-6353).”
Wow! What a difference. Honestly, it’s the same message but crafted in a way that you feel that the county office really cares that a) your child is able to participate and b) they are willing to go above and beyond to help.
That, my friends, is the power of positive service.