We all know excellent customer service when it happens to us. Great customer experiences drive future business and referrals. Lack of great customer service also has a far-reaching impact, but in a negative way. Done poorly, it costs money and customers. Failing to go above and beyond could cost you your most loyal customers and possibly your business. According to a report by NewVoiceMedia, the cost of poor customer service in the US is $41 billion per year.
While the statistics might paint a nerve-wracking picture of how poor customer service can make or break your business, consider how excellent customer service can change everything: the White House Office of Consumer Affairs suggests that 7 out of 10 Americans are willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service.
Satisfied customers pay the bill in the short-term. But that’s not enough. The key to long-term success is to create “raving fans” who will proactively say good things about your offering.
As always, the most important perspective on what makes excellent customer service is from the customer, not the provider. For example, imagine two people who have the same meal, with the same waiter, on the same night, at a fancy steak house. When each was asked, how was the service they replied:
Person A = “I felt regal. The service was exceptional. They refilled my water glass without being asked. They whisked away the salad plate as soon as I was done. And when I got up to use the restroom, I returned to the table and my napkin was folded neatly.”
Person B = “The service was oppressive. I was literally holding my water glass when he refilled it. They rushed my salad plate away. And I don’t want anyone touching my napkin after I’ve started using it.”
Who’s right? Obviously, they both are. The key is being able to provide individualized, excellent customer service, based on the needs of each person.
Excellent customer service comes down to actively listening to your customers and exceeding each customer’s expectations of excellence. What might be excellent customer service for one customer might be annoying for another customer. When you truly listen to your customers you will find many opportunities to delight them.
In the book, “Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach To Customer Service,” by Ken Blanchard and Kevin Bowles there are three keys to creating “raving fans.”
- Decide what you want
- Discover what the customer wants
- Deliver the vision, plus one percent
Case study: Give your employees autonomy
One of our favorite examples of creating customer delight is from Hallmark Business Connections, one of our clients, who partnered with Walgreens to delight their most valued Hallmark shoppers. This started with an idea from an employee: how could Walgreens personally thank their most devoted Hallmark shoppers? Her solution to deliver a heartfelt Hallmark greeting card and a special offer to each of these customers turned into one of their most successful loyalty programs.
Excellent customer service requires giving your employees a sense of purpose and satisfaction in their jobs. Take a moment to assess whether they have the autonomy they need to delight your customers.
Remember, to delight your customers with excellent customer service, always listen to their needs, find opportunities to go above and beyond, and give your employees the autonomy to deliver a great experience. Excellent customer service impacts the ultimate value that your company provides to your most important audiences. In return, you will be able to grow your business, retain customers and create “raving fans.”
Have more questions about delighting your customers? Let us know in the comments or contact us today.