I realised a few days ago that I have limited control over my facial expressions.
You see, I’d been standing in front of the counter at the post office in a village near Great Malvern for a good 3 or 4 minutes. There was nobody in front of me, and the two ladies behind the counter were carrying on a conversation.
I’d arrived in the middle of it.
Fair enough – I didn’t expect them to drop everything immediately and serve me… but I did expect some acknowledgement. If not a quick smile and a, “I’ll be with you in a moment”, at the very least a nod, a smile, and a raised eyebrow. The universal signal for, “I’ve seen you, I know you’re waiting, and I’ll be right with you.”
But no. Which was irritating, but I endured.
After a while, she noticed me and asked if she could help. Halfway through explaining, she looked over at the chap on the other counter, interrupted me, and called over to him.
At which point the top of my head flipped open and the Tentacles of Rage crawled out and started waving around. Or I must have lost control of my facial muscles. Either way, something got her attention because she jumped right back to me and stammered an apology.
I rearranged my face into a smile, and all was well.
This tale of Tentacled Rage will probably feel familiar if you’ve ever been “served” by a shop assistant who’s carrying on a conversation with a friend because you’re less important than whatever inanities are going on in EastEnders at the moment.
Or if you’ve been a shop assistant, and the person you’re serving can’t get off their mobile phone long enough to actually connect with you – instead flinging their purchases down while they natter away, treating you like the servant you clearly are.
I would just like to shout at the world: STOP IT. STOP IT NOW.
We need to get back to connecting with people. Remembering that business is all about our relationships with other humans.
So here’s a thing: stop telling me your “great customer service” is your USP.
Maybe not you personally… but the general “you” of businesses everywhere. You know of what I speak. When you womble around their website, you see the same inane drivel:
“We strive to meet and exceed your expectations!”
“We aim to provide great customer service!”
“Our products are top quality!”
This stuff is a minimum requirement. And the worst thing of all? The businesses spouting this drivel as their USP – their uniqueness – are often brilliant. But you’d never realise it from their marketing.
Instead, they draw away from making connections. They cover their discomfort with bland doodles swiped from drivel elsewhere on the internet.
They’re afraid of putting themselves out there and standing up and shouting about what they really stand for. What really makes them different.
And I’ll tell you this: even though it seems great customer service isn’t as common as it should be, it’s still a minimum requirement. It’s not what makes you unique.
What makes you unique is you. Your connections with your clients and customers and prospects. The thing you have that nobody else does.
So what is it? What makes you unique?
Vicky Fraser is a copywriter, author, and entrepreneur. She really did run away with the circus… but when she’s not swinging from a trapeze, she’s showing other copywriters and small business owners how to work with better clients, make more money, and stop missing bathtimes, first words, and dinners with angry partners. In fact, she wrote the book on it. Get your copy here.
PS If this concept is something you struggle with, let me reassure you: you’re not alone. It’s much more difficult than it sounds to nail down your uniqueness. But it is possible, even if you think there’s nothing particularly special about what you offer. (Hint: there IS!)