Have you ever had an experience where you have left a meeting at your child’s school feeling so satisfied and happy that you wanted to jump to the sky?  Or what about the nurse who made you feel like your father, her patient, was the most important person in the world?  On the contrary, perhaps you had a similar experience with the pharmacist that got you so upset and you couldn’t believe that people who were meant to help others, could be so arrogant and cold.

When we think about customer service, our vision tends to be about the grocery store clerk or the furniture sales person.  As a matter of fact, the definition of customer service that I found was, “the assistance and advice provided by a company to those people who buy or use its products or services.”

Good customer service can make the difference for whether or not you will return.  If the food in a restaurant was “so-so”, but the customer service was excellent, you may be more inclined to give it a second chance.

In human services, however, we don’t talk in terms of customer service, we hear more about client satisfaction.  The client satisfaction survey is a popular way to find out if, based on your experience, the organization is doing a good job. It’s often used as a measure of quality.

What makes the difference between what we would describe as quality support, care or education?

The answer is people skills.

With all of the people whom I have met that have provided care and support to my loved ones, it’s not their technical or job specific skills that I remember, it’s how they made me feel and whether or not I was a satisfied customer.  You can have the creative bulletin boards or you can follow medication protocol with upmost accuracy, but if you don’t speak to me in a kind and caring manner, I won’t notice what you did well.

The personal that attributes that can make a difference for people who are in a challenging situation are:

Empathy –  demonstrating that you are making an effort to understand their situation from their perspective in my opinion, is one of the most important aspects of your role in human services.

Paying attention to what the person is saying and taking action accordingly– listening is one thing, but actively listening, truly making an effort to understand what the person is trying to tell you and then taking action to fulfill their request, is extremely meaningful.

A pleasant demeanor – a smile, a genuine interest in the person, a positive attitude is comforting and reassuring.

Flexibility – rules, policies and procedures are all in place to ensure fairness however every person’s situation is unique and providing support or education with some flexibility will provide individualized outcomes.

If you want to learn more about how you can improve the customer service skills of your organization, please contact me to explore the possibilities!

~ Lisa