It’s the Little Things That Count


I have always considered myself to be a lone wolf, marching to my own strange and sometimes awkward drum beat. Having grown up in the era of video games, texting and social media, big crowds and face-to-face interaction intimidate me. Whenever possible, I use self-service tools or online chat. If I can’t figure something out on my own, I rarely contact a company to help me do so. One place where I haven’t been able to avoid this though, is the grocery store, and I haven’t figured out a way to not eat, so I’m pretty much stuck.

As you can imagine, I do not seek out the help of employees in the grocery store. Sometimes, though, I do find an employee who goes above and beyond to help me. When they do it right, it always impresses me so much, since I am trying, nicely, to avoid them with every inch of my body. I met an employee yesterday who did all the little things right in a seemingly insignificant interaction, but it made a tremendous difference to me. I’d like to share that story with you.

Like many people this time of year, I find myself a bit under the weather so I went to the Kroger across the street from my office in Buckhead, GA to get some medicine. Being a fan of self-service as previously noted, I then went through the self-checkout to pay, trying to avoid human contact and go on about my day. I scanned the medicine and was shown a truly terrifying (to me) screen with a smiling Kroger employee that read, “An Associate has been notified to assist you.” Apparently— and completely unbeknownst to me— you now have to show ID to buy this type of medication. Sweat dripping off my palms, eyes darting from side to side, I felt my fight or flight response kick into overdrive as I considered what I should do. I decided to stay, and what I saw, while it may seem insignificant to a normal person, truly impressed me.

Free Guide: Customer Communications: Business Writing Fundamentals

The scene was a typical retail nightmare for the clerk. On a slow day, it always seems that everyone comes in at the same time, and this was what was happening to her. As I rang up my meds, she was helping an elderly lady scan coupons for her purchase and then had to run over to the next checkout to assist someone else. These people seemed impatient, however I watched her assist them with grace. When she got to me, I could tell she was a bit frazzled, but she immediately smiled and apologized for the wait and then quickly checked my ID and allowed the purchase to go through. Before going back to her post, she again apologized for the delay.

I completed my purchase and then as I was walking out, thanked her for her help. She was working with another customer but looked up, smiled and said, “You’re so welcome! Have a great day!”

You may say, “Why are you writing about this?” It’s not like she did anything heroic. But to me, she really did. Even though she was having a slow day and a rough few minutes, she took the time to help me in a kind and caring way. She focused all of her energy on me in an extremely positive way. She made me feel comfortable and appreciated just through her actions. In a time where you really can’t expect great customer service from many retail locations, she did an incredible job.

I think so many times in business, we neglect to notice and reward people for doing the little things right, but it is the little things that make the difference. This should be a focus in your business. Do the little things better than others and it will set you apart. Great customer service that focuses on the fine print will keep your customers coming back, and it is estimated that it is 6-7 times more costly to attract new customers than it is to retain existing ones. As a matter of fact, 55% of customers say they would pay more for a better experience. Don’t take the impact of fantastic customer service lightly.

Related: Building Customer Relationships

Wherever you interact with your customer—whether it is in your service department, on social media or at the checkout counter—it is so crucial to take the time to amaze them. You have to let them know that they are special to your business and that you are there to take care of them.

From a management perspective, when your employees do this well, reward them! Showcase their great work in front of their peers. Offer them some form of reward. Do something to let them know that you saw it and noticed it. It will keep that employee striving to impress every customer every time.

Do you have any stories of great customer service? We’d love to hear them!

Harry Kierbow

Harry Kierbow

Harry Kierbow is the Director of Social Media for Commissions Inc (CINC), a real estate technology and marketing company. He's played professionally on Facebook (and other social networks) for more than 7 years now, managing campaigns for brands (both big and small) and individuals (also both big and small). Universally regarded as the greatest ice hockey goalie to ever come from Griffin, GA (by his mom at least), you can find Harry between the pipes on the ice rinks of Georgia (yes, there is more than one) or playing with his 2 kids when he's not perfecting social media ads or binging true crime documentaries on Netflix. Connect with Harry on LinkedIn @HarryKierbow.