Good is Not Good Enough

I have read many books and attended many conferences about how to provide superior customer service. Some of the material that I have read or viewed is truly simple to understand some of it is sort of complex. In my experience giving the greatest customer service is so simple that some organizations refuse to consider it.

The real hurdle to giving the best customer service is not found in the method of providing customer service, it essentially lies in the core commitment required to expect every employee at every level in a business to get on the customer service bus. That is, there must be a commitment that is well-defined inside your business purpose and mission statement. If not, then throughout the regular course of daily business your customers will find out at what point the commitment falters.

Some businesses can function for years before they find the challenge that forces a hard look at the organization’s customer commitment threshold. Now before I go any further I want to explain something. There is a customer service maxim that I have come to disagree with most of the time. Many businesses stand by this customer service mantra, and many stand by it to their own demise. That saying is “The Customer is Always Right”. No, certainly not true. In my not so humble judgment, not only is the customer occasionally wrong, in my experience they are at times very wrong.

Your customers are not thinking about your plan or your profit margin. They want to know that you care about them. When something transpires that makes them question your service, your aim should be to have a representative that recognizes your company goals, has a vested awareness in those goals, and cares about the customer and how to find the best answers available for each specific problem that they may encounter.

Here’s the thing, the best customer service is not found in an effort to make the customer feel right no matter the situation. This is an impractical expectation for your frontline people who are attending to your customers’ day in and day out. Any leader that thinks this has never worked the frontline of a service business. People can be flat-out rude and intolerant. The fact is that the very best customer service is found inside the relationships that your best customer service providers achieve.

If you are a business owner or leader, take a few days observing people who recognize and connect with your customers. It’s simple really; analyze your sales reports to find your top performers. Observe those performers in action. I am ready to wager that your top customer service workers put a great value on the relationship they build with their customers. They know their names. They remember personal details about them. They take notice of what they like and don’t like. They go out of their way to cater to each specific customer and their personal needs. They put customer needs ahead of other tasks. And above all, the customer is never a disruption.

That’s it. That’s the secret to providing the best customer service. Build relationships with your customers that your customers value as much or more than the merchandise they purchase from you. Now you must also develop a hiring practice that finds people who love putting a smile on people’s faces. Oh, the bad news is that you must likewise be dedicated to gain the support of this as a renewed or just a new company course. Be ready, some people won’t like this. Make it clear, get on the “Customer Service Bus” or find someplace that doesn’t mind settling for “good customer service”.

As a corporate trainer I can tell you that all the books and seminars you send people to will only show them the activities that lead to good customer service. To accomplish great customer service you must have a complete commitment to the attitude of penetrating your marketplace with a plan that goes further than customer sustainability. Don’t settle for good customer service when great customer service is achievable. I believe that your next phase of growth is just round the corner. In some ways this is the toughest choice a business can make, but I have seen it many times in my management profession. Once a team catches the customer service vision the sky’s the limit.