Hire a staff with a natural desire to please your customers

I often give presentations on “customer service as a part of your marketing plan.” And I have often used Burke Cleaners in Northern Colorado as an example of how an independent business (NOT a chain or franchise) can set themselves apart from their competition through “the little things.” Here’s a GR8 example of why Burke has truly written the book on customer service!

Back in 2004 when my husband Dick was in PVHS, having had open heart surgery, I was spending 20 hours a day at the hospital. I had to run some paperwork by the Heart Center of the Rockies on Harmony Road , and drove past a Burke Cleaners right across the street. My favorite purple pantsuit had been in the car for over a week, on it’s way to the Loveland Burke Cleaners, but of course I hadn’t had a chance to drop it off. Now, for some insane reason (stress does strange things to your brain?), that pantsuit became the most important thing in my life at that moment.

I walked into the Harmony Road Burke’s with my purple pile of clothes, and said, “My life is a bit complex right now and I’m hoping you can help me simplify it a bit. Can I drop this off here and have you deliver it to the Loveland Store?” One look at my tear-stained face (I still wasn’t sure if I would be a widow or not) and the gal – who was BRAND new – said, “Don’t worry about a thing. If I have to drive it over myself, we’ll take care of it.” And sure enough, two weeks later when Dick came home after his successful surgery, the purple pantsuit was at the Loveland Burke’s. No extra charge. I looked at the note which said, “Mrs. Clarke, Jennifer asked if you could phone her to let her know how your husband was doing. She said you were beside yourself, and she was concerned.”

Wow. A brand new employee, whom I had never met before and would never see again, grasped the situation, calmed me down with her kind words, and took personal responsibility to make sure the job was done “right.”

Burke’s had me before with their excellent “product.” Now I am a RAVING FAN because of their customer service. Did they train Jennifer? Perhaps. But I’ll guarantee you they HIRED Jennifer for how she interacts with customers. THAT is something you cannot train. And that is what YOU must do when you are interviewing potential employees.

I remember that the HR folks at HP used to say, “we can train a person to do anything, but we can’t train them to get along with others. People skills are what we look for now when we hire because we finally understand what we can and can’t teach.” Words of wisdom for all us who have a service or a product and who have employees representing us! Hire employees who like people. Simple, eh?