March 22, 2018

Customer Service is the art of meeting the needs of your customers. All customers have needs, and meeting those needs is at the heart of customer service. This sounds simple, yet so many businesses struggle with customer service because they don’t see the opportunities that present themselves. I think customer service is undervalued. The customer service “culture” in some businesses has not been set up for success. I think it’s an even broader issue of understanding “who is my customer” and “what is service.”

Everyone wants to be treated well. Everyone can tell the difference between good and bad customer service. So, what are the differences between the two? Some of the differences are with good service you get what you want and with bad service you don’t get what you want. With good service, your request is understood and with bad service, your request is not understood. With good service, you are treated with respect and with bad service, you are not treated with respect. One of the keys to treating people well is to treat them the way you would like to be treated. Since no one appreciates bad customer service, everyone should treat their customers the way you would like to be treated.

Let me explain what I mean by “customer service.” I will define each word separately. A customer is someone with a need, to purchase something or to resolve an issue. But, I think it’s bigger than this. I think in life we are all customers of each other. What do I mean by this? Let me explain. When making a new friend, we are nice and take the time to get to know the person and over time the friendship blossoms. Couldn’t I argue that you are selling yourself? When you go on a job interview, one typically dresses up. After you get the job, you stop wearing the coat and tie, for a man, or a dress, for a woman. Couldn’t I argue that you are selling yourself? Or, put another way, trying to become their customer? Isn’t dating before marriage the same way? We dress up, go to fun places, spend large amounts of time getting to know each other and are always on our best behavior. Couldn’t I argue that each person is selling themselves to the other? Or, trying to become each other’s customer?

In business, your customer may be your boss, the person on the phone, the team you work with, the person who wants to buy something or the person needing support. Knowing who your customer is and treating them the way you would like to be treated, will make happy customers.

Service is how we deliver the solution to our customer. Have you ever taken a “Customer Service Satisfaction Survey?” This is a business solution for gauging a customer’s satisfaction. In other words, did the business complete what it promised. These surveys may show that a transaction was completed but they often miss key details about the event. Service is an interesting word whose origins come from the word “servant.” Another way to say customer service then is “serving your customer.” I think the idea of being a servant is looked down upon these days. I have an opposite opinion. I believe that thinking of your customer’s needs ahead of your own is where the power lies in customer service. Wanting your customer to succeed and helping them get there will delight your customers.

Delighting customers just doesn’t happen but is purposeful. An environment and culture has to be established so that it can be practiced. Martin Baker, a Senior Manager with Global Digital at the Hershey Company, in a conversation with Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos said, “One of the things he (Tony) talked about was sending orders overnight when customers had put in 2nd or even longer delivery dates and giving customer service people the ability to improvise to deliver a high level of service. The best story was about a night of drinking and his challenge to friends to see if he could get a pizza delivered by calling Zappos customer service without identifying himself. The service representative said, “I can’t deliver a pizza but I can tell you the three closest Pizza delivery companies and here are their numbers.” – Martin Baker*

Customer service like this never says “that’s not my job” but finds creative ways to delight their customers.

“Companies like Zappos, Nordstrom’s, Disney, L.L. Bean, Amazon, Lexus, and Singapore Airlines don’t have to struggle to delight, because customer service is built into their culture. Companies that struggle with delight are creating “delight” to compensate for less than satisfactory products or services.

Delight is not an “add on” or “nice to have,” but it is an integral part of a great customer experience. You can’t delight when all other areas of your business aren’t working in synchronicity.” – Martin Baker. Companies that don’t value customer service aren’t delighting their customers and miss out on a competitive edge.

To be in customer service, you have to be willing to serve people. Serving others is not a negative but a positive. Working for someone else’s success is very rewarding. Being a part of a team effort that completes a goal is very satisfying.

In order to serve your customer well, you have to know what your customer wants. Good service entails asking questions. Getting to know your customer (building a relationship) by asking questions will help you understand what your customer needs.

Warren Buffett put it this way: "Tomorrow morning, when you look in the mirror after you've gotten up, just write — put it in lipstick or whatever you want on the mirror — just put 'delight my customer’."

“The phrase is not "satisfy my customer.” Any business that has delighted customers has a salesforce out there. You don't have to pay them, you don't see them, but they're talking to people all the time."

"You will succeed if you have delighted customers," he said. "Don't settle for satisfied." – Warren Buffett, speaking at Goldman Sachs’10,000 Small Business panel event at LaGuardia Community College 7/08/16**

https://branworks.com/the-art-of-delighting-customers/

** http://www.cnbc.com/2016/06/07/warren-buffett-biz-owners-should-do-this-tomorrow-morning.html

Sherman Drake is a Senior Consultant with extensive oil and gas knowledge at MidDel Consulting, a Business Consulting firm and System Integrator specializing in the Energy industry. We have over decade long track record of successful project implementations and a client list that is 100% referenceable. For more information, email us at info@middelgrp.com or call 952-500-9275.