What’s the Difference

by Bob Poole on December 30, 2009

What kind of experience do you create for your customers? When I think back over this past year, I remember the really exceptional and the really frustrating ones. The ones that were average tend to fade away which means the next time I want what they are selling, I might not think of them first – or at all. You might think about that the next time someone says you are doing a good job. You don't want to do a good job. That's just average. You want to do an extraordinary job. You won't be forgotten if you do.

My frustration levels this past year were peaked by some huge communication companies, software companies and (insert airline name here). It is easy to place the blame for poor customer experience on the size of the companies who deliver it. But, that isn't true. There are large companies who get it and deliver an outstanding experience. Amazon comes to mind immediately for me. Watching how they deal when things don't go perfectly should be a case study for all businesses.

And yet, I believe that there were a lot more companies delivering great experiences this year than in years past. Some of them are devotees of social media and learn what it is their customers want and expect directly from them while interacting through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. And, some like my dry cleaner and the farmer who raises our organic vegetables don't need books or gurus to tell them how to delight their customers. They love what they are doing and they love their customers and it shows.

It is true though that most of the extraordinary experiences I had came from small companies. I believe that most people want to deliver extraordinary service. It only makes good sense. I believe that most of the time when it does not happen it is the company and not the individual at fault.

I also lost one of my champions this month. I've written here about Claire Signs, the fantastic bank branch manager in Chalfont, PA for PNC. It seems that others in the bank also noticed her awesome ability with customers and they have promoted her into a job teaching others how to deliver the same kind of experience she created in her branch. She deserves it and PNC is very smart for noticing. But, I'll miss her smile and her hugs.

I'm in the process of doing some goal setting which I always do this time of year. But, it is different for me this year. It's the beginning of a new decade and I am now in my 60th year. I see my planning and goal setting this time as a guide for the rest of my life's work. It's extremely exciting when I think of it this way.

Maybe you can take some time over the next few days to think about what's important to you, what guides your life and what is your purpose here. It can't hurt and it just might lead to you being part of even more extraordinary experiences this coming year.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave P December 31, 2009 at 12:48 pm

Good customer service seems to go well in companies that treat their workers well. Wages are being cut in the US but still some companies remember that people are what make them exist, not equipment, and that people aren’t equipment. I worked a while back at Airtran Airways, and their average rollover is 3 months. Needless to say, it’s a stressful work environment, where people are treated poorly. Hence, they have bad customer service (Big surprise there!) I think proper management leads to good customer service, as it all trickles down. Nice entry; veyr relevant.

Bob Poole January 4, 2010 at 3:09 pm

@dave – i have a friend who flew Airtran once and said it was the worst flying experience of his life. It was enough to keep me away. Happy New Year and thank you for the comment.

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