Consistent, Excellent Service Attention to customers can improve your business value!Chia-Li Chien, Ph.D., CFP®, PMP®, CPBC
Chia-Li Chien | July 26, 2013
It sometimes only takes one person to make a difference in your customer’s experience. It’s up to you to equip that person to deliver what you want for your customers.
Recently, my bank called to say my bank card had been internally compromised and they had to cancel it immediately. Since I had electronic payments scheduled on this card but was not going to receive a new card for a few days, I was not happy about that, but what could I do except to call those companies, tell them what was going on, and hope that they could delay the transmittal? All that did take up part of my day and was an inconvenience to me as the bank’s customer.
The new cards were issued and we went about our business as usual, until the bill came it and showed a $50 charge for an airlines mileage program, which we had had five years ago, but not on the card that was cancelled. We called the bank again, and they asked us to fax the bill (we have a scanner, not a fax machine) and write a letter saying we had not requested the mileage program membership and to please remove it.
At that point, while I remained courteous and professional, I had to ask the customer service representative, “Why should I have to spend more of my time getting all that done for you to correct a mistake that your bank made? Why can’t you just take it off while we’re on the phone? I know these calls are recorded, which should act as my approval for removing the membership.”
“I’m sorry. I’m not authorized to do that,” was the customer service reps reply. While she agreed with me, there wasn’t anything she could do, I was forced to ask to speak to her supervisor—and then HER supervisor. The whole thing, from the cancelling of my card and leaving me in a bad spot to then issuing a card with a membership charge I did not request or authorize, was a customer service train wreck.
All because the first person I spoke to was helpless to help me.
In my friend Robert Petruska’s latest book: Gemba Walks for Service Excellence: The Step-by-Step Guide for Identifying Service Delighters, he encourages all leaders set the goal of service excellence by following his Four Awesome Principals:
• We are all in this together
• No one is doing anything wrong
• Anything can be improved
• We’re helping each other to improve
Here are a few other points in his book that I believe will help you create the service you want your team to deliver, resulting in a competitive edge in your industry:
• Exemplify leadership via observing on your feet. Make your rounds at the office early in the morning. People don’t really care about your projects (or business) unless they know you care. “What you pay attention to as a leader absolutely matters!” says Petruska. Go for Gemba Walks and observe what is going on in the workplace.
• Innovate with excellent service. Petruska references the Kano Model in achieving excellent customer satisfaction through certain performance characteristics. This drives a unique and easy innovation for your workplace, which is simple to implement in your business. You don’t need to worry about copycat competitors. “It is easy to copy the tools, but not the underlying principles,” says Petruska. Your service innovation will sustain you in the market space.
• Strive for performance Improvement. Performance improvement should not just be measured by the fiduciary control that most businesses strive for. Fiduciary control, according to Petruska, is typically found in financial KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) widely used in publicly traded businesses or mid-sized to large privately held businesses. KPIs are great tools for keeping things on track, yet adding human capital performance is the best formula for overall improvement.
Every day we watch or experience customer service, whether it’s in the workplace or church, through customers or from a boss. That service experience determines how long you stay with your job, a business or in a customer relationship. As a customer, the level of service determines whether we will return, increase our order, or, very importantly, tell our friends and family, in person or via social media, about “the great customer experience I received when I shopped at/called/ emailed Company A.”
Setting the right tone in culture and a willingness to innovate through excellent service is by far one of the easiest ways to sustain your growth plan. Rally your team to come up with ideas and implement their innovations and deliver excellent service. They’ll be watching how YOU, as the leader, exemplifies the service you expect them to give to your customers.
Give your customers a reason to stick with you. Deliver consistently excellent, innovative service from the top down, and watch your customer base—and your business value—grow!