Do You Provide World-Class Service?
By Michael Guld
business environment is becoming increasingly complex and
competitive due to globalization, new technology, increasing product
proliferation, brand erosion, market segmentation, consumer
skepticism and time poverty, rendering
traditional business plans obsolete. For just about every product or
service, there is an overwhelming number of choices to choose from,
leaving consumers dazed and confused. So how can you stand out from
a sea of competitors promoting similar offerings? Become known as
the company in your field that provides world-class service.
world-class service? It is the talk of many but the reality of
few. When a company provides a client with world-class service, it
often becomes a legendary experience that the client retells to
others in a form of free publicity, which can’t be bought.
companies come to mind when you think of world-class service? What
establishments do you patronize whose service exceeds your
expectations on a continual basis? Typically, these are not the
places that have the lowest prices. They do not have to … their
value is created by elevating the customer experience to a point
where paying a premium is not an issue.
all, companies should understand the difference between “the
product” – the commodity or service being delivered – and “the
process” – the method by which that product is delivered. Pike
Place Fish Market in Seattle, Washington has become world famous for
this differentiation. While their product is fish, their
word-of-mouth fame was created by the process in which that
product is delivered; throwing fish. The product of a doctor
is clinical expertise, whereas most people would agree that the
process by which that product is delivered (bedside manner) may
be just as important. Since Realtors do not have exclusives on the
homes (product) they show and sell, their sole value is
created by the service they provide (process). Here’s the
point: Your reputation in your field may be created more by the
customer experience you deliver than the product or service you
are six simple actions that will determine your level of customer
service (from the customer’s perspective). When a realistic and
objective assessment is made in each coupled with systems and
strategies to improve (with training), it can result in immediate
and transformational changes in your business. They are…
How well you listen
– Do you clearly understand the needs of your customers? As
Mark Twain once said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we
can listen twice as much as we speak.” You do not need to start
out offering all the answers … first begin by asking all the
right questions. What do your customers really want and
how can you better serve them?
What you say
–How well do you answer questions, provide information, guidance
or direction? Helping your customers understand the range of
offerings available (pros and cons) and what best fits their
unique needs will build loyalty. Helping them all along the way
and being available for service after the sale will build
customers for life.
How you say it –
Have you evaluated your non-verbal communication such as body
language, tone and inflection? In his book, “Silent Messages,”
Dr. Albert Merhabian found that communication is 57 percent non
verbal – body language, eye contact, a warm smile and open
gestures – 38 percent voice quality – volume, tone and
inflection – and only 7 percent the words you say. Yet most
people tend to focus their time, energy and training on the
words they say.
What you do – Do
you consider your actions taken or not taken? The only thing
worse than doing nothing is saying you are going to do something
and you don’t. It creates disappointment and a loss of trust.
Taking the time upfront to address your customer’s every need,
want and desire will keep them coming back.
How you do it –
Are you there to please or appease? Do you find that it’s just
a job for some people as they are going through the motions
while others take pride in their company, their work and truly
care about the well-being of their customers? Making customers
feel special and appreciated creates an emotional bond that is
not easily broken.
When you do it –
Do you consider your response times? Immediate response times
that exceed expectations create a positive perception, while
long wait and response times create frustrations leading to a
negative perception. We are now living in a “drive-thru” world
where communication expectations are now greater than ever
before with the advent of emails, cell phones, PDAs and text
service experiences are unremarkable. We tend to remember only
those experiences on the extremes of either side. Poor customer
service tends to leave consumers frustrated and disappointed. In
the restaurant business there is famous saying: “You are only as
good as your last visit.” An exceptionally long delay in receiving
food may be as damaging to a restaurant’s reputation as a bad meal.
it important to create a world-class service culture? Because not
only are the products or services in most categories being
commoditized by your competitors – where the lowest price wins – but
more and more often the service component is playing a greater role
in your customers’ buying decision. For example, if you look
in the Yellow Pages under “Automobile Repair and Service” you will
find pages of ads with every company communicating basically the
same message. Since most people don’t truly understand what is
being done underneath the hood, their loyalties lie with the way
they are greeted, on the phone or first meeting, and the way they
finally, when talking about world-class service, it all comes down
to people. When asked, “Why everyone working at Disney seemed so
happy…” Michael Eisner replied, “Easy … we don’t hire grumpy
people.” Robert Spector, author of, “The Nordstrom Way” relays that
Bruce Nordstrom’s hiring philosophy was to, “Hire the smile and
train the skill,” noting that he could teach anyone to sell shoes,
but he couldn’t teach everyone to smile. If you look at the
organizations that provide world-class service, you will usually
find they hire the best people and then provide a supportive culture
where those employees can flourish.
Now is a
time to stand up and provide a WOW factor that will create customers
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about Michael Guld.
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