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  • Kim Purscell

Creating Legendary Customer Service

Good customer service—we talk a lot about it, but what does it really mean? Most of us can think of a time when we were on the receiving end of good customer service—when someone did something special, unexpected and out-of-the-ordinary. That businessperson was focused on the customers and practicing a bit of business etiquette.

A number of years ago, while in Seattle, we visited Pike’s Place Fish Market. We heard that patrons at the Market experience something extraordinary every day. The market is a lively place where the employees are engaged in hurling fish at the customers. People love it. It is part of the daily routine, or better yet, the ambiance.

Sure, the fish is good, but that’s not the sole (pardon the pun) reason people shop there. They go so they can order the fresh catch, but it’s the experience of watching said fish as it flies through the air. While this may not be everybody’s idea of a great time, and it may not sound like good manners, it has proven quite successful for the Seattle Fish Market.

Your product or your service may not lend itself to this kind of outrageous behavior, but there are simple things you can do to be equally as memorable. Exercising basic courtesies and practicing the rules of business etiquette can be just as surprising and pleasing to your customers.

Not long ago I had an unusual experience when I met with a prominent businessperson, the CEO of a large corporation with offices on several top floors of a high-rise building. I entered on the ground floor, found the reception desk and introduced myself. The receptionist showed me to a comfortable seat and asked me to wait.

In a few minutes the CEO appeared in the lobby to greet me. She ushered me to the elevator and up several floors to her office. Following our meeting, she rode back down to the first floor and walked me to the front door.

I would have expected this busy executive to have sent someone else to meet me or to have told the receptionist, “Send her up.” Her display of exceptional business manners made a lasting impression. She went above and beyond to make me feel special and welcome. I don’t remember the words we spoke, or what she was wearing, but I will never forget how she made me feel. That is Legendary Customer Service.

So what small bit of personal attention can you give your clients that they will never forget?

  • Perhaps it’s the simple act of opening the door when you see the customer coming.

  • Maybe it’s offering a cup of coffee or cold beverage while people wait.

  • Don’t forget having Wi-Fi available, and possibly a 36-inch TV in your waiting room.

  • You might make sure that you have the most current editions of the magazines in your waiting room rather than the year-old ones you brought in from home.

  • It could be engaging the person in a bit of small talk, actually listening and following up on the conversation the next time you see the client. “So how was your family trip to Yellowstone Park?”

  • When new customers hand you their credit card, use their name as you give it back.

  • Having eye contact with them, and a genuine smile.

  • Consider being available to answer your own phone. Now there is a truly novel thought.

You might come up with something extremely creative, totally bizarre and off the wall. In the meantime, use basic courtesy so people will remember you and keep coming back for more. In short, practice some good old–fashioned business etiquette. Watch what happens.

Kim Purscell is a trained and licensed etiquette and protocol instructor, an accomplished speaker, and experienced business executive. Ms. Purscell’s passion is to help people move upward in the workplace by improving their professional image, behavior and communication skills; and empower clients, to present themselves with power, confidence, and credibility anywhere in the world. Ms. Purscell can be reached at

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