By Marcus Grodentz, Toastmasters International

When was the last time that you experienced amazingly good customer service?  We don’t see it all that often and when we do we remember it and talk about it. So, if you want to impress your manager, consider how you are approaching your work. How are you serving your colleagues and your clients?

The importance of excellent service

A colleague once asked me to take a call from someone who had a general query. Why did she ask me to deal with this?  The reason was that her manager didn’t like her dealing with any telephone queries that were not directly related to her work. It wasn’t what she was paid to do, and it affected the achievement of departmental targets. She was specifically told not to deal with them. Not to be helpful.

She felt it reflected badly on the organisation – and she was right.

That said there are companies that do customer service exceptionally well. My wife and I were on a cruise where all the staff had one shared vision – to make our trip as happy and as memorable as possible. And they succeeded.

Whether you work for, or are applying for an executive support role in, a large or a small organisation what is the secret to making your manager happy and to making you stand out? Here are some tips for providing a great service.

Gain an understanding of the goals

Understand your supervisor’s goals, both personal and for the business. Do everything you can to support them.  Is it to be the best at what they do? Is it to produce the best product or service or the most efficient product or service?

Doing and saying the right thing that supports these aims will mean that your boss has increasing confidence in you. Your colleagues will notice you and what you say.

Keep learning

If you are new to a job start learning and keep learning. Ask questions. Understand what’s going on. Even if you have been in a job for a while don’t think you know everything. ‘We’ve always done it that way’ is not the answer. Be prepared to look at new and improved.

Always be helpful

Be the person who says yes. That doesn’t mean being subservient. It means be helpful. Be at the front of the line. Offer to do jobs. Then do those jobs to the best of your ability. Help out colleagues and be supportive. Give praise to others. Thank people who have helped you.

But it is important for common sense to prevail. There can be a fine line between showing initiative – and overstepping the mark. Saying yes sometimes means giving a caveat. ‘Yes I can do that for you – but not today/ this week’. Give a time frame that is realistic.

Be reliable

Do what you say you are going to do and do it on time. Be there when you are supposed to be. Turn up for work on time or even early. Don’t be late for meetings and keep people waiting. Meet your deadlines. Don’t make excuses.

Reliability creates confidence. People know that you are someone who will do what they say. Will give honest answers and will provide solutions and alternatives and not just raise problems.

Becoming a leader

All of these qualities and attributes add up to leadership. Even junior members of staff can show leadership and demonstrate those skills. Be a leader so that others can follow your example.

I started my work life as a junior in a newspaper office. My duties included making tea for the entire newsroom. I warmed the extra-large tea pot before putting in the tea bags. I made sure all the mugs were cleaned and that the reporters had biscuits. Everyone looked forward to the tea breaks!

Doing the small things well means being given the opportunities for additional responsibilities and opportunities for promotion, as well as enthusiastic testimonials.

And a final tip: always remember to smile. We all like being around positive people. As Dale Carnegie famously said, “A smile, someone once said, costs nothing but gives much. It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment, but the memory of it sometimes lasts forever.”


Marcus Grodentz is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit