Panning for Service Gold

A fun activity for my grandchildren when they visit my North Georgia weekend home is panning for gold.  The sand comes from a sandy river bank near a sight that was a part of the gold rush in the early 1800’s.

Panning for gold is not easy; it works like this.  You first put a double hand full of sand in a gold pan and dip it in the water filling it half full of water.  Next, you gently move the pan back and forth as you let small amounts of yellow sand wash over the side of the pan.

The objective is to let the black sand sink to the bottom of the gold pan.  But, this is the point where panning for gold gets serious.  Impatience or strong arming the way the pan is shaken means the black sand escapes over the side with the yellow sand.  Once black sand is the only sand left in the pan, you are rewarded with flacks of gold.  Gold resides among the black sand.

Customer service is like panning for gold among the sand.  But, like sand, service can also come in a black form—those dark, disappointing moments that cause customers to doubt your capacity and/or caring.  The way you handle the dark sand can be the difference between losing a customer over the side and turning a customer oops into the opportunity for gold (a.k.a., loyalty).  Great service recovery takes patience.  It also requires focusing on the gold in the customer…not, their anger on the surface.  It means taking time to mine the customer’s needs and expectations so a solution is targeted.  How can you find gold in the dark sands of service?

About Chip&John

Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson are customer loyalty consultants and the authors of several best-selling books. Their newest book is "Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do About it."
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