Exceptional Customer Service is
No Longer Optional
By Laurie Brown
would you least expect to find great customer service? At or near
the top of anyone’s list, you’re likely to find government
services…long waits, indifferent staff, and lots of confusing and
seemingly archaic forms to fill.
more. Recently, Terri Lynn Land based her re-election campaign for
the position of Michigan’s Secretary of State on a platform of
providing superior customer service. All of her TV commercials
focused on her goal of continuing to make it easy to obtain license
plates and drivers’ licenses. When government agencies understand
that they need to provide exceptional customer service, it’s clear
that we all must do the same. So what can you do to provide this
kind of focused service to your customers?
Redefine your business: The first thing you should do is
redefine your business’ purpose. How you define your business
impacts how you develop all your policies and procedures. These
policies and procedures create the backbone of your customer
yourself this question, “What business am I in?” Hopefully your
answer is, “I am in the business of providing exceptional customer
service.” If that was not your answer, you need to re-align your
focus to reflect an emphasis on customer service. No matter what
business you are in, you need to be in the customer service
an online shoe store, refers to itself as a service company that
happens to sell shoes, bags, etc. Look at your business. What do
you need to do to become a customer service business that just
happens to (fill in the blank)?
a local bakery that offers customers the opportunity to buy its
cakes “in components” ‑‑ cake layers, frosting, etc, so that their
busy customers can create a “hand made” cake for their friends and
families. If they were in the bakery business, they would only sell
their beautiful, finished cakes. But because they are in the
customer service business, a business that just happens to sell
baked goods, they can meet the needs of their customers in a unique
and surprising way.
consider perhaps, a bank that opens 15 minutes early to help out
customers who are in a hurry. If they were in the “banking
business,” they would have to adhere to “bankers’ hours.” But
because they are in the customer service business, a business that
happens to deal in financial services, they can do the right thing
and have hours that better serve their customer.
it easy for people to do business with you: One of the best ways
to become a customer service business is to make life easy for
your customers. Customers value “easy” even more than they value
“cheap.” In our society people are constantly on the move.
Multi-tasking is a way of life. To win over customers, we need to
take the hassle out of doing business with us.
about your own experiences as a customer. Haven’t you been amazed at
how hard some companies make it for you to be their customer? How do
you feel, as a customer, when you have to deal with a phone system
that takes minutes to get you the right person, or when you have had
to fight to get a problem resolved fairly?
easier it is for a customer to give you their money, the happier
that customer is bound to be. And they will tell their friends!
Whether it is an improved phone system, an easy-to-access website,
convenient parking, store hours that match the customers’ schedules,
or accepting all forms of payment, we need to simplify, simplify,
problems: You are bound to have problems now and again. How you
handle those problems can make or break your customer service plan.
Have a good service recovery process and use it consistently. When
there is a problem, take these simple steps to turn those unhappy
Apologize with empathy
Take ownership of the problem
Fix the problem ASAP
Get the customer’s buy-in
Offer a small sincere token of apology
example you might say: “I am so sorry that we were not able to send
those flowers when we promised. I know that we really created a
problem for you. (Step 1) I will make sure they go out immediately.
(Step 2 and 3) Will that be ok? (Step 4) And because we were at
fault, I would like to offer you a 20% discount on your next
purchase (Step 5).”
a week or two, follow up with a phone call or note to see if the
customer feels satisfied with your solution (Step 6).
Rewrite policies and procedures: Too many policies and
procedures are there for the sake of the business instead of the
customer. Take a good look at all of yours with the intent of
turning them into customer-friendly policies and procedures.
example, if your current policy states that you only accept cash or
checks in payment for a product or service, consider accepting
credit cards and/or PayPal to make it easier for your customer to
give you their money.
your current procedure has your customer filling out lengthy
paperwork when they arrive for an appointment, consider letting them
access the paperwork online to fill out in advance, or offer to have
a member of your staff fill it out for them.
Train, Train, Train: All of these new customer service oriented
suggestions are useless unless your employees are onboard and well
trained. Once you have your new customer service business plan
created, you need to train ALL your employees so that they can
provide the kind of service that makes your customers loyal
customers. Empower them to be “customer-focused.” Reward them when
they provide “Wow!” service.
your employees with the same care and concern you want them to
extend to your customers. It is a fact that if you have happy
employees you will have happy customers! And happy customers keep
coming back time and time again!
Read other articles and learn more
[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis.
Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and