The Five Rules of Customer Service

A recent study by Forrester reveals that 80% of companies feel they deliver superior customer service.  However, only 8% of customer agree. 

Why care about great customer service?  Because the end result is that service quality wows and keeps customers coming back.  The following five rules will help you on your way to being one of the 8% who do deliver superior service.

1. Hiring:  Who Are The Right People?
The goals of any company should be to hire people who aren’t afraid to stand out, to “shine” by going the extra mile.  Unfortunately, most systems are set up to hire those who fit in.  The result we often get is mediocrity.

Hire the best, smartest, shining people available regardless of previous experience.  Hire for attitude, train for skills.  Hire people-oriented staff who are naturally endowed with positive service attitudes and values. Don’t continue the status quo, take a step forward.  If you currently have people who don’t fit this description in customer service positions, train them or remove them.

2. Social Economy:  The Service Strategy for This Millennium
Social media is dramatically changing the landscape of customer service – and for your benefit!  However, if you don’t understand social media and the social economy, you could lose the value of your company in just seconds.

The reason is simple:  customers today are more likely to trust a recommendation from a friend or family member than to trust advertisements they see or hear.  So if a friend leaves a scathing review on Facebook about a negative experience they had with your company, it’s likely that anyone who sees it will never do business with your company.  There are potentially thousands or more users who will see that review – think about if it was shared exponentially!  This influences their decisions to do business, or not, with your company.

Reversely, people will ask on social media for recommendations for a good company and post great experiences that they have with your firm.  When that happens, your service culture becomes a selling tool to increase your customers and your sales!

3. Speed:  Creating a Breakaway Customer Experience Based on Speed
Culturally and socially speaking, it is not in human nature to think and act with speed.  Even with established deadlines, we tend to wait until the last moment to complete our tasks.  If it’s due Friday morning, we often wait until Thursday to finish.  If we have 10 hours to complete a task, we’ll complete it in exactly 10 hours, not any less.

So how do we dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to complete a task?  Customers today value speed.  They are busier than ever and don’t like to wait for the things they need and want.  Speed begins with a “do it fast, do it now and do it right” attitude.

It is imperative that company processes and procedures are designed to speed up service to the customer.  Many companies have bulky requirements and procedures that only frustrate customers and employees.  Employees who perform procedures daily are the ones best qualified to improve those processes.

Imagine if your staff had the principle of speed instilled in their actions every day.  Not just doing things fast, but also doing them right.  Think about how your customers will feel when any issue is met with urgency and care.

4. Empowerment: A Way of LifeEmpowerment
Empowerment is essential to creating a service culture.  Without empowerment, there is no chance you’ll become a service leader or stand out from your competition.  John Tschohl explains, “Empowerment is giving employees the authority to do whatever it takes, on the spot, to take care of a customer to that customer’s satisfaction.”  Read that again:  whatever it takes…on the spot…to take care of a customer.  So ask yourself, is your workforce empowered?

Believe it or not, getting your staff to make great, on-the-spot decisions to best serve the customer is not easy.  They know what needs to be done but often won’t do it, out of fear.  To them, the risk outweighs the reward.  The risk of potentially being reprimanded or even losing their job for doing something outside the box requires that employees be consistently encouraged to use their sound judgment to always act in favor of serving a customer.

Just imagine what you could do with an entire workforce of empowered employees who understand the big picture of business success and the importance of empowerment.

Learn more about Empowerment with John Tschohl’s book.

5. Service Recovery:  Frontline Path to Quality Service
Good service recovery takes place at the frontline or it doesn’t happen at all.  It’s about taking a customer from hell to heaven in 60 seconds or less.  About creating an experience so remarkable that people feel compelled to talk about it.  (Remember social media?)

The four steps to service recovery are:

1.  Act quickly

2.  Take Responsibility

3.  Be Empowered

4.  Compensate

When service recovery becomes a way of life in your company, customers are loyal for life.

Let’s face it, sometimes things happen that were not supposed to happen.  How your staff deals with those occurrences makes a BIG difference on repeat sales, company perception and overall customer experience.  We’ve seen the social media disasters when companies don’t handle issues with grace, speed and responsibility.  Likewise, we all hear about the companies that do – the stories that get told and retold, that now live in our collective “social” conscience.

Being a master of service recovery will be one of the best initiatives that you undertake in terms of the impact on your company’s reputation and public persona.  And that will affect your bottom line.

Need more information and tools on Speed, Empowerment, Service Recovery and other helpful programs?  Want more assistance in determining your company’s reputation and customer service score?  Just contact

Check out our blog on customer service strategy and suggestions and be sure to contact us if you have any questions.

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Learn how to make your company a leader in customer service – contact Shoppers, Inc. at 800-259-8551 for more information on Service Quality Institute programs.

Shoppers, Inc.  – A better customer experience.  We provide Measurement, Employee Development and Public Speaking Engagements.

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