Improve your customer service: Give your business the rollaboard test

Here’s a customer service consulting secret that won’t cost you a penny, assuming you have some old luggage lying around:

Give your business the rollaboard test.

It’s a simple test you can do with a single piece of rolling luggage.

Let me explain.

This morning, holiday notwithstanding, I was sitting in a Philadelphia airport club lounge watching a fellow business passenger roll in (meaning: he walked in and his suitcase rolled in) to stock up on Wifi and crackers before a day of travel. Well-oiled though his luggage may have been, it still made the distinctive, loud sound that every rollaboard makes on a hard surface:  rat-a-ratta-ratta-tat.

You could hear him coming literally 30 feet away.

At least I could hear him 30 feet away.  The three employees behind the reception counter acted as if they had heard nothing, doing whatever they were doing until he was right in their faces and could no longer be disregarded.

At which point, regardless of how pleasantly they reacted to his arrival, it was too late for them to be truly hospitable.

What is the great constant of business travel?  Loneliness.*  And the receptionists at the counter had an opportunity to make the arriving passenger feel a little less alone by noticing his presence before they were forced to.  And, they had an amazingly audible clue–the closest possible thing to a cowbell–to help them do so.

Admittedly, not all businesses greet their customers in person, and not all customers carry noisemakers that signal their impending arrival.   But in almost any business setting–online, over the telephone, or in person–there are ways to make customers feel at home before you get down to the nuts and bolts of interacting with them.

And concentrating on these moments, these opportunities to anticipate the arrival of your customer, can make all the difference. Making it clear that you are here to serve the emotional needs of your customers rather than to ignore those customers until their presence is forced on you is one of the differentiators that make all the difference.

So that’s why I suggest you ask yourself: Would your company pass the Rollaboard test?

* The great constant of your business may be something other than the loneliness of the long-distance traveler.  For technical situations (custom fabrication), the constant for an arriving customer may be confusion, or apprehension.  For customers arriving at an institution that hands out life and death (patients and loved ones pulling up to your hospital for admission), it may be dread.  Whatever this emotional constant is, there are ways to deal with them and to make customers feel at home before you get down to the technical work of interacting with them.   

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Micah Solomon is the business keynote speaker, author, and customer service consultant termed by the Financial Post ”a new guru of customer service excellence.” Solomon offers keynote speaking and consulting on customer service issues, the customer experience, and company culture — and how they fit into today’s marketing and technology landscape.  See Micah in action — including video and free resources — at Or, click here for your own free chapter  of Micah’s latest bestseller,  High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service (AMACOM Books).———————————————————–

“Micah Solomon conveys an up-to-the minute and deeply practical take on customer service, business success, and the twin importance of people and technology.” –Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder

© 2013 Micah Solomon.  Portions of this post may also have appeared in Micah’s previously published work.