Treat others as you want to be treated is the Golden Rule of customer service, right? In a day and age where service is clearly lacking, the Golden Rule is hard to find, let alone define. Wikipedia defines customer service as “a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation.”
Delivering good customer service is meeting the basic expectation of the customer. Delivering great customer service is exceeding the customer’s expectations. It’s the WOW! It’s that experience that people remember, that instills trust, and gets that customer to come back time and time again. Great customer service builds loyal customers and that can make a significant impact on your bottom line. “A 5 percent improvement in customer retention rates will yield between a 20-100 percent increase in profits across a wide range of industries.” (Reichheld , Fred. The Loyalty Effect).
The first step in building customer loyalty starts with your employees. Before you train your team on how to deliver exceptional service, you must first create your customer service manifesto. Your customer service manifesto should outline your principles, expectations and standards for delivering exceptional service. Bill Quiseng, speaker, author, and customer service expert, explains exactly what to include and how to create your own manifesto.
Once you have clearly communicated your expectations, the key is to educate your team, every member of your team, every day. All you need is five minutes a day. Conduct a huddle to discuss the daily plan, an example of service excellence or service recovery from the previous day, or a key area of service that needs focus. You should also conduct “in the moment coaching” that is, when you see a success or an opportunity to improve, address it in the moment…or NOW! Recognize accomplishments immediately, with a simple thank you or another expression of gratitude. By doing so immediately, the employee remembers exactly what they did and will most likely continue with that positive behavior. Also, use coaching in the moment to discuss areas for improvement and ensure employees do not continue with the unacceptable behavior that may cost you a potential customer.
Consider the impact to your bottom line if you don’t train your employees. A study done by the Ken Blanchard Companies, revealed “the average organization is forfeiting more than $1 million per year in untapped potential because of less than optimal leadership practices." You can determine how much you are potentially forfeiting with Blanchard’s Cost of Doing Nothing Calculator.
One final note: Delivering exceptional customer service doesn’t take a lot of money. Sometimes the simplest gesture can make all the difference in the world. Case in point, when I was shopping at Aldi, a discount grocery store, a customer asked a clerk for a specific item. The clerk answered, “Yes, we have that, follow me.” She walked the client to the exact location of the product! I was floored and impressed. At other stores, I’m pointed into the direction of the correct aisle. No one has ever walked me to a product location. After that interaction, you can bet your bottom dollar that Aldi will get more of my money!
If you want to take your customer service to the next level, here are a few books that I recommend. They are in my tool kit and are referenced often:
Unleashing Excellence by Dennis Snow
The Starbucks Experience by Joseph Michelli
The New Gold Standard by Joseph Michelli
Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard
The Disney Way by Bill Capodagli and Lynn Jackson
GUTS! By Kevin and Jackie Freiberg
Written by: Jennifer Reeves is the director of sales and service for West Michigan Woman's publishing company, Serendipity Media. She is a customer-service guru, and she is known around the office for her electrifying personality and contagious laugh. When she isn’t spreading cheer at Serendipity, she is relaxing at her home in Holland with her beloved daughter Mackenzie. Photo: Celal Teber