Say what you will about Holiday shopping, but those marathon outings (going store to store to store) provide a unique opportunity to compare and contrast customer service among retailers. From the curt sales clerk who seems annoyed by your very presence to the hero who calls around to other stores to find what you need, the variance in customer service quality is quite dramatic. Why are some retail outlets so effective in delighting customers while others leave us feeling unappreciated or worse, unwelcome? It really comes down to training and corporate culture.

Consider the customer experience at the Apple Store or Starbucks. Consumers walking into these establishments can be confident that someone is going to help them, either by meeting their technical needs or creating precisely the cup of coffee they desire. Both Apple and Starbucks are high-end providers. While that status may increase the expectation for superior customer service, it isn't what drives it. Kohl's department store is one lower-cost provider with a reputation for excellent customer service. Both store policy and employee training reinforce a commitment to please the customer. "Forgot your coupon?  No problem.  I've got one here you can use." "Bought that item six months ago?  A year ago?  No problem returning it."

In these establishments, we feel like the employees are glad to see us and eager to help. We like these people, and by extension, we like the company that employs them. Superior customer service is no accident. It reflects training that 1) clearly communicates the organization's commitment to customer satisfaction, and 2) goes beyond rote processes and product knowledge to include attitude, functional skills, and communication skills to convey the message, "nothing is more important to me than making you happy."

Has your organization clearly communicated its commitment to customer satisfaction? Have you? Do your actions and words reflect your organization's dedication to the customer - every single day? Commit to being the best possible face of your organization!