Go Ahead, Make My Day!
When customer service employees are asked if they provide good service, almost everyone says "yes." Almost no one says, "No, I'm really lousy at customer service." That raises a good question. If everyone in the country thinks they provide good customer service, then why are customer scores lower than ever? Why are so many consumers fed up with the service they receive? Obviously there's a big gap between the provider's definition of good customer service and the consumer's satisfaction.
A few months ago I found myself conducting a workshop for front-line customer service professionals. During the first break I was approached by a participant. I'll call her Allison.
"I really don't need to be here," she insisted, "but my boss made me come."
"Oh?" I asked, inviting her to say more. Allison's demeanor made it clear that she'd been "sentenced to training" and very much resented her "prisoner" status.
"My boss told me I had to come because I'm not nice enough, but I know that I'm perfectly nice," she declared, daring me to contradict her. Allison was right she was perfectly nice. She also appeared to be a matter of fact person, who did not waste time chit-chatting about things that are frankly, none of her business. Niceness often implies taking a personal interest, even if it takes a little more time.
Allison and her boss were both following the Golden Rule of Customer Service - "Treat others as you would have them treat you" - and that gold was returning as lead. So what should you do if you're in the customer service business? What can you do to ensure customer satisfaction? The Golden Rule is a good place to start in service, because it helps you put yourself in your customer's shoes and to look at the world from the customer's point of view, but it's a poor place to stop, because it tells you only half the story.
I could talk about this for days! For starters forget about customer satisfaction! Aim for customer enthusiasm!
There is a difference. A satisfied customer is simply a person who got what he or she paid for, nothing more, nothing less. Unfortunately, research says 40% of your "satisfied" customers will move to the competition if they get better service. What you want and need are "enthusiastic" customers. Enthusiastic customers are people who got more than they paid for, and as a result, they are customers who stick with you.
One way to get enthusiastic customers is to surprise them with service that goes above and beyond the customers expectations. Go ahead. Surprise your customers, just like a local hardware store did a while ago. When a giant Home Depot opened up across the street from him, the local guy went to Home Depot and wrote down all the things Home Depot didn't have. The local guy adjusted his inventory and put up a sign that read, "If Home Depot doesn't have it, we do." His business tripled as a result. He surprised his customers with service that went above and beyond the customers' expectations. In the end, customers want to be treated the way they want to be treated. It's as simple as that - and as difficult.
Today, at work, make it your goal to surprise one customer. Give him or her some service that goes above and beyond the bare minimum that goes beyond the customer's request. Then look for the delight in your customer's eyes. Go ahead, Make Their Day!