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Customer Service: How to move from ordinary to extraordinary

January 2nd, 2014

Differentiation is arguably the most important source of growth for service businesses. That said, when it’s difficult to differentiate the outcome of your service, it’s essential to focus your attention on differentiating the process by which you deliver your service.

When I Googled “customer service” I got “About 1,270,000,000 results (0.19 seconds).” Clearly there’s no shortage of resources on the web that talk to this issue. But at the end of the day I’m going to suggest that most businesses still do not get it even though the people who own, manage, and work in those businesses totally understand when they are customers of other organizations.

Some people, me included, suggest that great customer service is simply common sense but maybe that’s not correct and maybe that’s the problem.

In their great book Built to Last, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras talk about the legendary service stories of Nordstroms. They include:

The Nordie (this is what the Nordstrom’s sales associates are called) who ironed a new shirt for a customer who need it for a meeting that afternoon

The Nordie who wrapped a gift wrapped products a customer had bought at Macy’s

The Nordie who warmed customers’ cars in winter while they finished shoping

The Nordie who made a last minute delivery f party clothes to a frantic hostess

The Nordie who refunded money for a set of tire chains even though Nordstroms does not sell tire chains

These “stories” add another dimension to the typical utterances we often hear from organizations that “seek to provide world class service.” Really, what does that actually mean to a team member?  Such a goal statements makes “common” sense and probably should be in the Team Member Handbook but it says nothing about the type of customer experiences that would enable the organization to lay claim to accomplishing such a goal.

Maybe it’s the uncommon sense as reflected in the Nordstroms stories that we need to focus on. So here’s an exercise you could usefully go through with your own team members (and clients for that matter.)

Grab hold of your copy of Towards Awesome Service and do a quick review of the concepts addressed in that video program. Share the Nordstrom stories with your team then ask them to describe various customer interactions they have experienced in the past 12 months that could have provided an opportunity to respond with a Nordstrom-style reaction. What impact do you think that might have on your clients’ loyalty to your firm, their referral willingness, the likelihood of them talking positively about their experience, and the sense of satisfaction your team members have when they are empowered to provide this type of response.

Oh ….and one more thing. What might that do for your pricing power?

 

  1. January 18th, 2014 at 10:52 | #1

    Thanks for insightful views on services as customers hold the key if they are treated in a good way they will bring more business

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