6 Essential Principles of Customer Service

By John Tschohl

When banks make their customers feel special, wanted, and appreciated, they’re building the kind of relationships that make it a lot harder for customers to switch. To create that feeling, you have to give front line employees the right tools. Only then can they deliver the kind of superior service you need to define your bank’s reputation.

Here’s a concise and practical list of six essential customer service principles for awesome service. Hang them on the wall. Print them on the coffee cups. Do what you must to ensure that everyone from your managers to your font line internalizes these principles. They’re not complicated. But they are central to creating a service culture.



  1. Feel good about yourself.

Most employees do not go to work dreaming about how they can work exceptionally hard just to make more money for the bank and its stakeholders. Be realistic. Many people have problems of their own. But the more we can elevate our sense of self-worth and self-image—as well as that of our fellow employees—the more productive we all become. This creates a win-win relationship. When we all commit ourselves to goals that are worthy of our abilities, the result is a higher level of excellence.

When you know you are doing your best for both customers and work associates, you will feel good. Concentrate on your strengths. Recognize the importance of your role. You can make the difference.

  1. Practice habits of courtesy.

It takes seconds for a customer to figure out whether you care. And frankly, it does not take any additional time to be nice.

Everyone has the right to expect courtesy from you. To be so self-centered or preoccupied with your work that you forget to show courtesy with each contact is to signal that you don’t care. On-the-job practices of courtesy are an important part of everyone’s role to signal respect. The more you give the more you care.

  1. Communicate positive feedback.

Communicate verbally and non-verbally with positive messages. Offering a smile, acknowledging what the customer says, and calling them by name is all part of this—both in person and on the telephone.

It costs you nothing more than a little effort, and the rewards are great. Every human contact is an opportunity to give the gift of good feelings through the words you say and the tone you use. People can’t read your mind—what you say is evidence that you care.

  1. Perform for the customer.

Do what you say you are going to do. If you promise to call someone on Tuesday, call them on Tuesday. Keep your promises. Too many employees lie or make excuses when there is a problem.

Customers have the right to demand performance. They aren’t interested in our problems and excuses. We constantly need to ask ourselves “Is our performance resulting in satisfied customers?”

Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Deliver what you promise.

  1. Listen carefully.

This is so rare. Think of your own experiences as a customer. When someone asks your name, you may have to repeat it several times. You’ve likely encountered customer service reps who have no interest in listening. Some are trained to ask questions—but are they really listening to your answer? If you can’t tell, it’s a problem.

How does this happen? Jobs can become routine. When you see hundreds of customers, you can become desensitized to an individual.

So when it’s you who is dealing with customers, you have to concentrate on each individual. Get in tune with their situation, their attitudes, and needs. Anticipate, read between the lines, ask questions, get involved…to show you care and to know what will satisfy the customer. Even complaints are a positive resource if you listen and act.

  1. Learn and grow in your job.

Know everything about your products and services. Too often employees have no concept or understanding of their products and services. Think again of your own experience as a customer. You can tell in a few seconds if the employee really knows what they are talking about.

Grow where you’re planted. Every job offers an opportunity for greatness.

In a sense, every day you either grow or die mentally. Learn about your company, learn about your products, and learn about your customers. With learning comes self-fulfillment.

Don’t wait for someone to give it to you, go after it.

John Tschohl is an international service strategist and speaker. He is founder and president of the Service Quality Institute in Minneapolis, Minn. He can be reached on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.