“I need a Personal Shopper! When can you start?” said the woman in the store that I was shopping in. It happens to me all the time. It doesn’t matter where I am, if I’m wearing a winter jacket and boots, carrying multiple shopping bags, or even if I’m in the ladies room, I am always mistaken for the store’s salesperson. Every time it happens, I do my best to help the person find the right department, the right size, the right color, or her “missing” spouse. It’s what I do. I help people.

Year after year, I ask myself, “Why me?” and I’ve decided that it must be my customer service self shining through. I’ve owned a few businesses, including retail, and have put in a few years as a secret-shopper. Customer service is a big deal to me. Whether I am the customer or the service provider, I know without a doubt that the quality, or level, of customer service that a person receives sets the tone for the next transaction. Good service equals good feedback and repeat business and we all know what a lackluster experience leads to.

Customer service has as much to do with reputation as sales, marketing and talent. When it comes to my business, I believe that customer service starts at the top–with me. It’s my responsibility to hire the right people and to lead my team by example. And let’s face it–this job isn’t for everyone. The right person is someone who enjoys helping others, is upbeat, approachable, and thinks of problem solving as a guilty pleasure. He/she can easily identify and anticipate needs, knows how to apologize, and to deliver more than expected.

When it comes to my staff, I’m very lucky. They are all friendly people who enjoy going the extra mile for our clients, freelancers, and each other. We talk about all types of customer service experiences in order to educate each other and look at situations from another point of view.

So, the next time I’m approached while I’m shopping, I’ll do what I always do–I’ll lend a hand. And when I need some help, I hope that whoever helps me also feels that great customer service is worth providing and not a lost art. In fact, “Lost Art” would be a great name for my personal shopping service…