When was the last time you had really great customer service? Perhaps it was when you bought something in a store, checked in at a hotel or the airport, or even made an enquiry over the phone.

When I ask this question of participants on my seminars, people respond with all sorts of great customer service stories.

They say things like, “The lady I dealt with was really warm and friendly” or “The guy I met with made me feel really important” or “They always remember my name when I call over there.” What do all these comments have in common? They’re all human-level responses.

We tend to base our judgment of great customer service on how we’re treated as humans. Very rarely do I hear, “The project was completed on time” or “They replaced my faulty items without a quibble.” We tend take these business-level responses as a given. It’s the human-level responses that influence us in terms of whether we’ll use the service again and/or recommend it to others.

When dealing with other people – be they internal or external customers – it’s important to open the conversation on a human-level before doing the business. Say something during the interaction that is not about the business at hand. Then, when the business is complete, close the conversation on a human level. This is even more important when dealing with a customer who is upset.

It’s just as important to deal with our internal customers on a human level before discussing business. Start thinking about making your conversations, e-mails and other communications a bit more “human.”

Some people nowadays will tell you that there’s no time for human-level responses, and customers – both internal and external – want you to cut straight to the business. However, a brief human-level response can speed up the business and make your life so much easier.

So there you have it; human beings have a massive need for acknowledgement. We want to know that other people care about us, that we’re important and we’re accepted. If we satisfy that need in others by communicating on a human level, as well as a business level, then all our interactions will be much more productive.