Some people are just naturally good at providing great customer service. They are people pleasers. They pay attention to details. And, it seems to come naturally to them. So, are they born with it, or do they learn it? How do they recognize that this is what they are good at?
Just a few weeks ago I went through an exercise and one of the questions was about my “entrepreneurial DNA.” I took a different approach to the question. It wasn’t just about being an entrepreneur. I realized that there was a point in my life that I could look back and say, “That’s when I knew I was passionate about taking care of customers.” I didn’t know it then but looking back I can see that it was what defined me. That was my “Customer Service DNA.”
The same could be said for any profession. The president of a major bank looks back and says, “That’s when I knew I was good at numbers and wanted to work in finance.” Or, the artist at some point realized, “That’s when I fell in love with painting.” It could be a career or a hobby. It’s what you’re passionate about. With enough thinking, many people can look back and realize there was a point in their life that defined who they are today. That leads me up to my defining moment, and I refer to it as the Snow Plow Moment.
I was just sixteen years old. I had spent $900 on an old Jeep with a snowplow. The snow plow was worth about $700, so the jeep was worth only $200. It was a “hunk of junk.” My goal was to make money in the winter plowing driveways. Before the first snowfall, I had secured 15 customers in the area. The first snowstorm came that winter and all worked perfectly. Same with the second snowstorm. It was that third snowstorm that was the defining moment.
It was 4:00 am and I was getting ready to plow the driveways, and my car wouldn’t start. Nothing I did was going to get that engine to turn over. I was upset. Not because the car wouldn’t start, but because I promised these people that I would plow their driveways. They were going to wake up and not be able to get their cars to the street.
A friend of mine had a brand-new Chevy Blazer with a plow. He plowed parking lots and athletic fields for schools. Maybe he could help me. So, at just a few minutes past 4:00 am I called him. His mom answered the phone. I explained the problem and she woke her son. I told him how much I charged for each driveway and that I would be happy to give him all the money if he would pick me up and help me take care of my customers. He did, and my customers never knew there was a problem.
At the young age of 16, I knew that all I wanted to do was take care of my customers. The money didn’t matter at that point. They depended on me, and that’s all that mattered. It would have been easy to call them and tell them my car wouldn’t start, but that was not me. As I look back at my youth, I can see how certain “moments” defined me. That was the Snow Plow Moment, and today that is how I treat each and every client. I’ll do what I have to do to take care of them. That’s my customer service DNA.
So, what’s your version of a Snow Plow Moment? Looking back, what moment helped define who you are today? Once you recognize it, it will give you a renewed sense of purpose. It’s who you are and why you do what you do.
Shep Hyken is a customer service and experience expert, award-winning keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author. For information, contact 314-692-2200 or . For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs, go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken