October 19, 2009

points of contact

Another week beginning.  I am creating the habit of planning my week on Monday mornings.  And reflecting on the week behind me.

I was on the ferries this past weekend, as a foot passenger.  I was waiting in the lounge area to head back to the island.  It was the 3 pm sailing, which is when the shift change occurs for BC Ferries staff.  There was a security officer standing at the gates.  He arrived just after me, and although I am sure he had a number of responsibilities, he made one task apparent.  He was there to ensure a clear path from the foot passenger ramp through the waiting area to the stairs that head down to the car deck.  Although he didn't explicitly state his purpose, I later learned it was to maintain a clear path for the departing Ferries staff.

I was standing off to the side, marginally in his 'clear path' zone but he chose to let me stay where I was.  I was there about 20 minutes before boarding.  I watched him over and over again in those 20 minutes direct people out of his declared clear zone.  He repeated variations of the same phrase at least 30 or 40 times.

He said the words and those of us around him heard the words over and over again.  But he never lost sight of the fact that the information was new to the people just arriving.  He was clear and direct and polite and patient each time.

He demonstrated a key aspect of good customer service.  He wasn't in a role that we might typically think of as customer service, and he wasn't technically a Ferries employee, yet he was the face of BC Ferries for those 20 minutes.

Every point of contact matters.  He was the point of contact for that lounge-full of foot passengers.  Although I could see things he could do to create a more positive impact - smiling, for example - he did not diminish BC Ferries in the eyes of its customers.

It is critically important for any business to be thinking about its points of contact, and what each one of its customers is experiencing.

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