What is it that makes customer service extraordinary?
This week is Customer Service Week, a week to remind organizations of the importance of customers and the week to especially celebrate those who provide this service day in and day out.
In honor of Customer Service Week, I want to share a conversation I had with an expert in the field of customer service, Mark Sanborn. Mark is an extraordinary professional speaker, the bestselling author of numerous books on customer service and leadership, and a personal friend. His many books have inspired me and countless others to raise our own performance and deliver exceptional service.
In this brief nine-minute conversation, we talk about:
What differentiates extraordinary customer service from average service
How good recovery means everything if you miss
How to use creativity instead of capital to fix customer service problems
The danger of indifference
Overcompensating for customer service misses
How leaders can develop a customer service culture throughout an organization
Some companies are leveraging the power of the Internet in such a powerful way they are increasing market share, earnings, and revenue at an incredible rate. Others are struggling, not fully realizing the potential or understanding what it takes to win with today’s technology.
John Patrick’s answer is that it is all about attitude. He says companies with a “net attitude” have an extraordinary advantage over those who don’t.
Having a net attitude “makes constituents happy,” says John Patrick. Because your “website is your brand,” it’s important to make it accessible, easy to use, and focused relentlessly on a positive customer experience.
“The prescription starts with a single word, attitude.” –John Patrick
Why Customer Satisfaction Hasn’t Budged in Decades
You share a statistic that customer satisfaction hasn’t improved since the 1970’s. After all the books, the seminars, the new programs, nothing has changed. Why not? What are companies missing?
Customer service has historically played out in private. So even though companies have always said they emphasized it (nobody says “we deliver shoddy customer service” even when they do) they haven’t truly HAD to emphasize it. And doing it well is complex and somewhat expensive in the short term. So nothing has ever really changed. But now, customer service is becoming a spectator sport, and the truths of good vs. bad customer service are out in the open and impacting buying decisions.
80% of businesses believe they deliver superior service, but just 8% of customers agree.
Let’s say you are about to deal with a customer complaint. How do you get in the right mindset?
Don’t take it personally. Remember that the customer is using THEIR time to try to tell you how to make your company better. And remember that you don’t know what the customer has been through. And then embrace that answering a complaint increases customer advocacy, every time.
A 5% increase in customer retention can boost profits 25 to 85%.
Social media has given on-stage haters a platform like never before. Businesses were not prepared. What’s the first piece of Jay Baer advice you usually give a business?
This may be a paradox, but our advice at Convince & Convert to companies looking to improve their social media customer service is to first make sure their offstage customer service is outstanding. If you’re not great at phone and email, all you’re going to do is push people from those channels to social media and back again. Be a great walker before you run!
Dr. Chuck Bamford’s new book, The Strategy Mindset, is a practical guide for creating a corporate strategy. Having read more books on strategy than I can remember, I particularly like this one. As I read the book, there were times I found myself arguing with the author. At other times, I was nodding. Still at other times, I found myself with immediately actionable ideas to improve the process at my own organization. And that’s why I enjoyed the read so much.
I think the most controversial part of his book is likely the myths section, where he takes apart existing myths of corporate strategy.
“Strategy is about making decisions that will impact the company in the future.” -Chuck Bamford
First, you say that people are not a competitive advantage. You argue that almost all employees are interchangeable. Good employees are just “table stakes.” Is it not possible to have employees who, on average, are better than the competition?
It flies in the face of so many beliefs that it is just hard to accept. Employees are VERY important as the way that business delivers to customers. However, the moment that you actually believe that your employees are smarter than your competitors’ is the moment that your competitors will start beating you in the market. You have the same (or relatively the same) collection of amazing employees, capable employees, and poor employees as your competitors. All the HR processes in the world today have not changed that dynamic in companies. The employees that you have working in your company are a combination of luck (the biggest factor), HR practices, networking, and did I mention luck!
I’m not trying to be divisive here, but most of your customers do not generally care (or if they care at all, it is slight) who takes care of their business needs as long as the needs are taken care of. This does not apply to every employee in a company, just most. At every company I have ever worked with or for, there is a contingent of “franchise” employees. Those are employees who, if they left the company, would impact the success of that company quite substantially. We all know who these folks are, and if executives are smart, they take care of these employees to ensure that they stay with the organization. These “franchise” employees are not just the customer-facing employees; they reside throughout an organization.
“Employees are not your competitive advantage.” -Chuck Bamford
Second, you are not a fan of the SWOT. What’s wrong with the way most organizations use it?
SWOT is the single biggest impediment to doing real strategy that exists, and it exists because certain big consulting firms continue to use it with their clients, and it makes clients “feel good” without really having to do strategy.
SWOT was an attempt to bring some structure to the topic, and as a conceptual approach, it is still fairly robust. Unfortunately, many authors, academics, and practitioners decided that SWOT was an analysis tool and a means for a company to develop its strategy. SWOT is NOT strategy, and it is not an analysis tool.
Anyone can create a SWOT. It is grounded in your own biases and view of the world. In the end, a SWOT is simply the opinion of the person or group filling it out.
“SWOT is the single biggest impediment to doing real strategy.” -Chuck Bamford
Every business wants to develop a stellar reputation. Over time, that positive sentiment not only earns repeat business, but also eventually earns trust. Customer service is vitally important to establish and grow that trust. Every interaction with you or your brand offers the incredible opportunity to build a relationship and fortify your position.
In the social media age, your business reputation can catapult you to a beloved partner or sink you to nothing in almost no time flat.