How to Win at Customer Service

stand-out.jpg Yesterday, I ran a workshop called “Customer Experience: The Intersection of Marketing and Customer Service” as part of the Customer Service is the New Marketing conference.  One of my exercises asked the attendees to share their best customer service experience from the last year or so.  The attendees had a really hard time coming up with good experiences! 

Stop right now and think about the best customer service experience you have had in the past year or so.  Can you come up with one?

It is much easier to remember the poor customer service experiences than it is to remember the good ones.  We tend to rant and rave when things go wrong.  When things go right, we tend to take it for granted.  That is, unless the service is spectacular – then, we remember it and tell our story to everyone.  For example, one of my workshop attendees from Colorado shared a story about her taxi ride into San Francisco from the airport.  In a nutshell, it was horrible!  On her way to the conference the next day, another cab driver asked her about her trip so far.  After she shared about her poor taxi experience, he turned off the meter and gave her a free tour city highlights before turning the meter back on and bringing her to the conference.  She was WOWed!

“Good customer service” is just the price of admission.  In order to win at customer service, we need to set ourselves apart by being exceptional.  We need to WOW our customers, not by performing random acts of kindness but by executing a strategy to exceed our customers’ expectations. 

How do we create this strategy?  Over the next few days, I will be sharing some of the tips I heard at the conference from companies that are exceptional, such as Zappos.com and Virgin.  I will also be adding in tips from my experiences working with companies seeking to win at customer service.  Feel free to send in your own tips and ideas.  Let’s go!

(Photo credit: Elnur)

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13 Responses

  1. Becky,

    Great post but let me play with the words a bit: We may not remember great customer service but we will remember great customer experiences. Subtle perhaps but the example you give was more an experience than a service in my way of thinking. It’s like those of us who visit Starbucks regularly–the service is consistenly good, but we expect that. The experience happens after we get our beverage. And that usually is better than good, as it it built around conversation, taste, visual and auditory senses. The difference: a service happens; an experience excites our senses.

  2. Going in that same coffee theme…

    There’s a franchise coffee place here called Dutch Brother’s. They hire mostly young adults (Eugene being a University town, there’s no shortage of 20somethings looking for a few hours of work). The stores are all parking lot drive-thru kiosks. And pretty much without fail, they are the most customer friendly places in town. Here’s why.

    Regular customers drive up to not only a personal greeting, but their favorite coffee already made and waiting for them.

    The people working are always smiling, always energetic and usually have some kind of wonderful music playing to keep them energized. I’m known by name and by coffee in two of the kiosks in town.

    When a new kiosk opens in town, coffee is sold for one dollar in all the kiosks the whole day in celebration.

    This company gets it. They serve good coffee, yes, but the service is what makes them one of the more popular places in town. To me they are exceptional and the thing that sets them apart from others is that feeling of one-on-one I get from their employees.

    I could go on and on about them, but half the marketing team is going on a coffee run and I don’t want to be left behind. 😉

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  6. Hi, Becky!

    You said it so well here: “Good customer service” is just the price of admission. In order to win at customer service, we need to set ourselves apart by being exceptional. We need to WOW our customers, not by performing random acts of kindness but by executing a strategy to exceed our customers’ expectations.

    The WOW experience happens when you least expect it.:)

  7. sdipietr

    Hi Becky,

    My first Reply to you.

    I’m not a fan of exceeding expectations. What happens when you order a pizza. They say it will be 20 minutes. You take a shower and the doorbell rings. The delivery person says with a big smile, “Here’s your pizza” You’ve just dripped water all over the carpet and state the obvious “but your early”…. to which the pizza person replies “Yes – (smile) we always exceed the customers expectations”

    In my world, delivering Expected is better than Exceeded.

    Good work on the Blog.

  8. Hi, Becky – what a treat for a Friday morning…. I have to thank the 1938Media team for directing me to your blog. Great to re-connect with you… I will be following your Starbucks initiative and I hope to be able to give a UK flavour to the commentary.
    Plus, I’ll link back to you later on.

    Rebecca Caroe

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  10. I really like your blog.. very nice colors & theme.
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    you? Plz respond as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to
    find out where u got this from. many thanks