Customer Service – Fifty Plus Going On Fifteen

For forty years, I have been involved in Customer Service delivery whether I knew it at the time or not. Although we have made significant strides in technology, customer service is not what it once was and I wish you luck trying to call a real person to assist you on the phone.

Prior to joining the military as a teenager I was issued my initial customer service toolkit from an 80-year-old chef at Wagonmaster’s Steakhouse, from my 25 year old small business idol who owned a Mobil service station in Jamestown North Dakota, and lastly from my mother who was my life coach until early this year.

When I talk about my initial customer service toolkit, I am talking about customer service to not only customers you directly served but customer service to people that hired and/or managed you.

I joined the military at the age of seventeen having limited options in North Dakota and no college fund to attend auto body and/or auto mechanics advanced education.

Once I was in the Navy, I did not live by the old saying of “Never Again Volunteer Yourself – Navy” and volunteers for submarine duty because I wanted the challenge and was afraid of heights so did not want to be stationed on an aircraft carrier.

I cannot give major specifics about parts of my naval career but during my career, I volunteered for must fill critical positions on or at:

  • Fast attack submarines.
  • Submarine industrial repair facilities
  • Technical education centers.
  • Squadron operations.
  • Local recruiter duty.

My goal was always to provide customer service for those I worked for, my peers, my subordinates, and end customers. Yes, there are customers in the military.
Unluckily or luckily, I retired from the Navy in 1996 due to military downsizing of the submarine force and even though I tried to go to mine sweeps, I was considered untrainable due to my career in submarines so I punched my time card and moved to civilian life.

Twenty years have passed since I retired from the Navy and during this time I have done everything from:

  • Remote field technician.
  • Trainer for field technicians.
  • Regional service manager.
  • SVP of Service, Logistics and Operations.
  • Consultant for service delivery companies.

In each of these positions, the goal was customer service for my owners/managers, peers, subordinates and end customers in the financial equipment industry.

Now we come full circle back to my point regarding customer service.

I recently visited a Waffle House restaurant and although some may think it is ironic that I am discussing customer service and Waffle House in the same sentence, they are tied together.

Our server at Waffle House was in training and the person training her was a seasoned server who was determined to provide customer service training. She was so intent on providing customer service training that I grabbed a napkin and made bullet points on what she trained her on. Specific topic training topics included:

  • Making certain that eating utensils were clean prior to placing on table.
  • Making certain the table, seats, salt and pepper shakers, etc. were wiped off.
  • Making certain that water was offered along with other drinks.
  • making sure cups were full.
  • Making certain that the order was repeated to make certain it was accurate.
  • Making certain that quality of meal and additional needs was verified after food was delivered.
  • Making certain that change was counted back making each dollar whole.

I was impressed that the time was being taken to ensure that customer service was job one at Waffle House. I will always compare all future servers to this visit when tipping and I am happy to report that customer service may not be dead.

Have a great night,

Jay Patterson

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