How to Finesse Your Way into Receiving Good Service Anywhere
Truthfully, I could probably make this post even shorter than the headline/title above. However, since I get paid by the word (don't I wish), I would like to make this point very clearly. I'll give you the two-word answer to this topic at the end of the post.
During our recent trip to Houston, we got on the road later than expected, so I had to plan on picking up my rental car at a different location which was open later, until 7pm. I spoke with the manager and he was very nonchalant about things. I didn't get the feeling that he much cared whether or not I got a car that night or not. Since we have three young kids, my wife needed to have a vehicle of her own so that she wouldn't be stranded at our in-laws' house with them for an entire day.
Traffic was pretty heavy, but we made it to the rental car place at about 6:45 or so. It was small, and attached to a dealership, so I could see their entire inventory of vehicles just outside the office door. I had reserved a "full-size" car, and the manager told me he would "try" to get me something good-sized, but there were no guarantees. So, what was sitting there? What were my two options?
1. Small green compact car
2. Black Jeep Cherokee
I knew it was time to turn on the charm. I entered the office, which turned out to be a room about 6 feet by 8 feet, complete with two very uncomfortable chairs which I suppose constituted the waiting area. There was a very stressed-out looking man with his tie off who looked like he would rather be anywhere but there. I waited patiently while he finished his computer work, then turned to greet me.
This was make-or-break time.
ME: Hi, I'm Jason Crouch. We spoke a little earlier on the phone. Are you Reggie?
REGGIE: Yes, that's me. How you doin'?
ME: Good, good. I'm glad to have made it on time. You're my new hero!
REGGIE (laughing): Well, I'm glad we could help.
ME: You know, I used to run a rental car office myself years ago. It was located in a body shop. Long hours, huh? I remember hating inventory, because I had to work so darn late.
REGGIE: Is that right? Well, I have been here since before 7am. Let's see....
As he turned away to look at the keys on the board behind him, I knew this was the critical moment. Would I be taking the dream, or the dud?
REGGIE: Tell you what, I've got a free upgrade for you tonight.
ME (feigning surprise): Really? That's great! What do you have?
REGGIE: You see that Jeep Cherokee? That's yours.
ME: That will be perfect! Thanks so much for your help. I really appreciate it.
So, what can we all learn from my experience with Reggie a few weeks ago?
- BE NICE! (that was the answer I promised you above)
- Throw out a compliment or two. It won't kill you to do so. Calling Reggie a "hero" was not just an ego stroke - it was the truth!
- Remember the magic words that you learned in Kindergarten? They still work today. Everyone likes to hear "thank you" and to feel truly appreciated.
- Treat people like human beings, not servants. Even if they are in a service-oriented business (aren't we all?), they are likely just trying to get through the day and they probably mean well.
- Be observant. I knew that Reggie was stressed out and tired as soon as I walked in. This may seem like common sense to some of you, but it's not as natural for everyone.
- Find a common connection, if possible. I brought up the fact that I had managed a rental car location to demonstrate that I knew EXACTLY what he was feeling. Again, it was the truth! Don't manufacture this.
- If all else fails, PRAY!
During my two-minute conversation with Reggie, I managed to hit all six of these points. I didn't have a list in my mind - the list actually came to me tonight. I hope this comes in handy for you with clients, or waitstaff in restaurants, or with anyone you deal with during the course of your day.
Thanks for reading!
All photos courtesy of www.photorack.net.
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