Yesterday I went to Target to buy some things but first I had to return some things. Visiting Target between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a painful exercise but I figured that a Tuesday morning might be less so. I found a cart in the parking lot, put my return items in it and went inside the store and to the Service counter. There was no line. (Happy me!)
I had to return several things (hence, the cart I gratefully retrieved from the parking lot) that I'd bought as possibilities for a friend whose living room I am helping re-decorate. Lamps, frames, some other stuff.
I gave my receipt to the woman behind the service counter and then handed each item to her, waited for her to scan the bar code, and handed her the next item.
It took all of a minute.
As she stapled my return receipt to my original receipt, I said, Thank you for making this such a painless process for me.
She looked at me, smiled, and said, Thank YOU for making this painless for me. She went on to explain that returns and exchanges are her job but that many customers don't bring in a receipt or don't remember which credit card they used. She said it can be a long process for her and a line builds and people get upset when they have to wait but there's nothing she can do. After she explained, she said again, So, thank YOU.
As I strolled through the store with my then empty but soon to be filled cart, I realized something. If you want good service, be a good customer. It's an exchange of expectations, one that can go smoothly, or not. It's important that you play your part towards the outcome you are after. The equation is that simple.