Customer service is much broader than just serving your paying customers or internal clients. Customer service is a mindset. Frankly, it’s a way of living. Customer service is about winning hearts and minds among the people in your life. That includes colleagues, bosses, subordinates, vendors…anyone with whom you interact, even friends and family members. In my corporate training, I often talk about creating advocates behind your back. These are people who will stand up for you when you’re not there to defend yourself. Customer service is not, however, about sucking up to people or caving to their every demand. It’s about treating people with dignity and respect, anticipating their needs, and finding ways to improve their situations in the workplace and elsewhere.

The Power of Appreciation

There are many techniques you can use to implement these ideas, but today, I want to talk about the power of appreciation. This applies especially to your relationships with your colleagues at work. It’s also a powerful tool to use with your family members and friends. We hear much talk about living a life of gratitude in which people express their gratitude for any number of blessings or gifts. This, however, is about saying thank you to the people around you for the simple acts they perform. Maybe it’s a quick thank you to a colleague for small acts such as making a fresh pot of coffee, for adding more paper to the copier, or for emptying a common trash container. Maybe it’s a quick thank you to an administrative assistant for catching a typo in a document before you distribute it. Maybe it’s a quick thank you to a sales person for signing a big contract with a client or to an art director for completing a big project on time.

Notice What People are Doing

However, it’s not always a matter of saying thank you. Sometimes, we can show appreciation for other people by noticing the things they do outside of work. If someone is a photographer and they’re having a show, attend it. Buy one of their photographs for the office. If they’re a dancer and they’re in a competition, go and cheer for them. If they’re in a choir and they’re having a concert, go. If they’ve written a screenplay, read it! The point is that people appreciate appreciation. People appreciate others taking an interest.

Take an Interest in People

When you want to create advocates behind your back, when you want to build a team of supporters, when you want to earn the respect of your peers, take an interest in them. Say thank you for small gestures, especially those acts that we normally take for granted. Notice and appreciate people when they don’t expect it and you’ll win advocates for life.

For More Ideas on How to Improve Communication and Customer Service Skills

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