Your First Post from the Water Cooler Hangout

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A while back, I spent a week interviewing 17 people about their views on what makes good customer service and who are the best companies. Two things came out of the interviews that I think are worth remembering.

  • A person’s idea of whether or not a company is good at customer service is totally dependent upon their own personal experience with that company.

Now that might not seem like a radical insight but think about it for a minute. In just 17 interviews I found people who absolutely hate companies that are rated in the Top Ten in the United States over and over again.

You see it didn’t matter if your company is number one in customer service in the world if you left them with a bad taste in their mouth and if you didn’t delight them with extraordinary service.

This means that your company has to be vigilant to delight every single customer.

Your customer service program needs to be a Zero Tolerance one when it comes to unhappy customers.

  • The second thing is something that was consistent over and over again. People used the word “feelings” when they discussed their experiences. And, the stronger the feeling – whether positive or negative – is what makes the interaction one of delight or one to rant about.

Again, this doesn’t sound like an “aha” moment. But, it is because it gives you, the business owner/executive, the opportunity to align your customer service programs and goals with feelings which is the most powerful motivator in the world.

Instead of focusing on things like how long it takes a customer service rep to end a call, or the percentage of total customers who say they like you in your latest survey; when you use customer feelings as the measuring of delight, you will have to put the responsibility and authority to create that extraordinary experience right where it belongs – with your front-line customer service professional.

What kind of a difference do you think that will make? Here’s a note I got yesterday from one of my readers. As a matter of full disclosure, this is from my sister Judy who retired as a bank manger in Ohio. She sent it to me unsolicited and I think it is a wonderful example of what happens when you give your front-line people the responsibility, authority, and goals of creating an extraordinary customer experience.

Let me tell you about one of my CSR’s, Cathy, and her customer service. A couple from China recently moved to our small town and definitely had a language barrier upon arriving. The husband spoke a little broken English and the wife none at all. Upon arriving in East Liverpool, they bought a home and the title company needed a place to close on the house and asked if it could close at our branch. Once they were in the branch my CSR tried to make them right at home and comfortable with the proceedings. They needed to open a checking account and during the process the CSR was able to figure out that they needed to have their utilities turned on but they didn’t understand what they needed to do or who to contact. Cathy took it upon herself to call all of the utility companies, get the information as to what needed to be done and have them turned on. Then because they had no credit in their names in the United Stated she called a credit card company and was able to get them a credit card with a small limit so that they could start to build up their credit.

Needless to say, Cathy went above and beyond. Instead of being an order taker, opening the checking account and being done, she spent over an hour with this new customer to help them. We now have a customer and friend for life and it was all because Cathy created an exceptional experience for them.

This is the kind of extraordinary customer service, which is all part of marketing and sales, we all should be delivering.

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