3 Tips For Legendary Customer Service

It’s not WHO you know but who knows YOU.

A good deal of your business success is determined by WHO knows you. The other part of your success is determined by WHAT they think of you.

And WHAT they think of you, to a great extent, is determined by the service they receive from you. In fact your service is so important that your customers will tend to pass judgment on your entire organization based on one or two interactions they have with one or two of your employees.

Yet all too many organizations and way too many employees don’t understand this critical point. It was one of the reasons the Chrysler Corporation almost went bankrupt several years ago. I remember hearing Lee Iacocca, the former head of the company, talk about that at a meeting I was attending. He said 52% of their buyers were women, but their salespeople treated women like idiots.

So Iacocca invested some $30 million to train his people to smile and show some caring. He knew their customer service was the FACE of the organization, and they couldn’t afford to project anything less than a positive face to their prospects and customers.

The same goes for you. You’ve got to FACE your customers in such a way that they’ll think positively about you. Here are a few things you can do, taken from my seminar on “Creating Moments of Magic: Moving From Customer Service to Customer Enthusiasm.”

=> 1. Hire The Best.

As Anderson and Kerr say in their book, “Customer Relationship Management,” “You can’t afford to hire second best.” They say, “Employing really second-rate people who provide second-rate service is a sure way to go out of business.”

And yet lots of managers tell me they can’t find good help anywhere. Or they’ll say, “I’m doing the best I can with the people I can afford to pay.” Well let me remind you that having a warm body to fill a position is cold comfort when your customers stop coming back.

There’s some good news, however. Employees — paid minimum wage or top dollar — will perform up to or down to your expectations. If you believe you have a second-rate team, I can assure you that your team will know how you feel, and that’s how they’ll behave. They’ll give second-rate service.

If at all possible, you’ve got to hire the best. And if you can’t do that, you’ve got to think the best about the folks you do have. Find things you admire and appreciate in each employee, and let them know that.

=> 2. Adopt A Problem-Solving Mind-Set.

Customers think of themselves as people who need help. And if they perceive you and your organization as willing and able to help, they’ll think very highly of you.

So get your people to think of themselves more than someone who answers the phone or waits on a customer. Get them to think of themselves as problem solvers.

AST Computers did that. They learned to solve their customer’s problems no matter what form they took.

Late one Friday night, one of their customers had a serious accident, and he was desperate to contact his wife who was visiting some out-of-town relatives. But he didn’t have their telephone number.

As the ambulance was about to rush him to the hospital, he thought of AST Computers because he had their 800 number. He called them and asked the customer service rep if he could dial directory assistance, track down the relative’s number, and notify his wife. The AST service rep did that — because he had a problem-solving mind set. It never dawned on him to say, “That’s not my job.”

One of my favorite clients is Protective Life Insurance. I’ve spoken there several times. They say “doing the right thing is smart business.” And they practice what they preach. They even give a $1000 check each month to the one employee who best exemplifies that belief.

When I was delivering a customer service seminar there, they shared one example. They talked about the call that came in, where the caller asked if his policy paid off if the cause of death was suicide. The customer service rep said, “Yes, as long as the policy had been in effect for two or more years.”

The call could have stopped there. But the Protective Life Insurance rep was sharp enough to ask why he was asking that question. The caller said he was planning on killing himself that day. He talked about losing his job, his wife, kids, and health, and he wanted the money from his policy to go to his loved ones.

The rep asked the man if he had a doctor, got the doctor’s name, and called him. The doctor said indeed, his patient was clinically depressed and would kill himself. The rep got the doctor and some paramedics to the man’s house. And thankfully, it all worked out. The man even wrote the rep some time later to say he’d gotten his job, wife, and kids back and was doing well.

Wow! Talk about customer service. It’s stuff like that that makes the customers of Protective Life think so highly of them.

And there’s a third thing you can do. Keep reading after my special offer to you, my customers.

=> 3. Consciously Create A Memory.

Creative small gestures can speak volumes to customers. But don’t leave those small gestures to chance. You need to think about what you and your team members can do to create those lasting, positive memories.

Martina, a housekeeper at the Springhill Suites in Eagan, Minnesota does that. She noticed, for example, that one guest always had a wastebasket full of Coke cans. One day she took it upon herself to fill the sink with ice and several cans of Coke. the result was an ecstatic customer who couldn’t stop talking about the service at Springhill.

The fact is, your customers are going to pass judgment on you. You can’t stop that from happening. But you can influence the decision they make if you follow today’s Tips.

Action:  Take an inventory. What’s the primary focus of your customer service people? Is it to “process” as many people as possible, or is it to solve their customers’ problems?

If you need to foster a stronger, problem-solving mind set, hold weekly meetings where everybody shares one example of a customer problem he/she solved that week. It will keep people focused on the real purpose of his/her job.