From my recent interview with customer service guru Cindy Solomon, here’s a summary of the four things you need to know to deliver on customer expectations – because that’s what customer service is all about.
1. Make it easy for customers to do business with you. Policies and procedures that let the customer not only give you their money with minimum of fuss, but also help when they have an issue.
2. You can’t have great service if you don’t have great people. That is people who are well trained, who are sincerely interested in serving the customer, people who know about the products and services they are selling.
3. Show your customers you not only recognise them and appreciate their business, but that you know a little bit about them and their preferences – that you have a relationship with them. Don’t make them repeat themselves just because they happen to get different people when they call you.
This isn’t rocket science. Do these three things with consistency and efficiency even most of the time, and you have a great start over your competition when it comes to service.
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And last, but most importantly,
4. Understand that customer service is NOT about exceeding expectations every time, it is about knowing what you are good at, setting the expectation and MEETING that expectation every time.
Not everyone can be Zappos when it comes to customer service – making it your mission in life. Some of you will be Ryan Air – not even pretending to deliver any customer service. However, by being deliberate and throwing some time and attention at it, your customer service can become a “bottom line revenue generator” for your company.
In closing here is my favourite story from the interview – it’s from Zappos, and while for most these levels of customer service are (rightly) nothing but a pipe dream, there’s nothing wrong with having something to aspire to!
“Another example that everyone is going gaga for in US is Zappos. They are one of the best examples of having a customer service philosophy that flows through every part of the business.”
“A CEO friend shared this story with me. He was sitting on a panel with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh at a conference recently and they had finished up and decided they were going to order pizza seeing it was late and they didn’t feel like going to the formal dinner. This was the CEO of a five star hotel chain, CEO of Zappos and CEO of UPS (I think). And they were giving Tony a hard time about all the great press he’s been getting about customer service at Zappos. So he said “let’s test it out, call Zappos,” which is a company that sells shoes and other things online, “and tell them you want to order a pizza and see what happens.”
“The hotel CEO asked if he was sure he wanted to do it and Tony said to go ahead. So the hotel CEO made the call and put it on speaker phone. When the customer service person answered he said “I am here in Cleveland Ohio and I would like to order a pizza.” And the woman said, “Ok, where are you specifically,” and he told her and she said “can you hold on just a minute.” She got off the phone and when she came back, not only gave them the names of three pizza places that delivered to his location but had also called to ensure that they were still open.”
Unless something else grabs my attention, next week we’ll be talking about brand alignment – and why it’s about more than just communications…
See you next week.
Michel Hogan is a Brand Advocate. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia and in the United States, she helps organisations recognise who they are and align that with what they do and say, to build more authentic and sustainable brands. She also publishes the Brand thought leadership blog – Brand Alignment.