The Secrets To Delivering
Great Customer Service Every Time

Offering great customer service is more than just a nice courtesy; it influences whether a company retains its current customers, attracts new ones, and reaches its full potential for growth.  In short, good customer service drives profits.  

Probably 99% of business owners believe their companies provide excellent customer service.  But that’s not necessarily what their customers think.  We talked with Max and Lynn Daniel of The Daniel Group, a Charlotte consulting firm that helps companies improve their customer service and how to deliver customer experiences that lead to business growth.

Consistency, consistency, consistency.  No one likes surprises when it comes to business, whether it’s in an invoice, a contract provision, a delivery date for an essential part, or other important matter. Customers need to know what to expect when they deal with a company.  Consistency helps build trust, and trust leads to customer loyalty.

A company that lives this principle is Walt Disney World.  A friend visited Disney with her spouse, children and parents right after someone in their group had been diagnosed with a serious food allergy.  Staff at several of Disney’s full-service restaurants had been alerted in advance about the problem. At every restaurant, a chef came out to talk to the family member about what he’d like to eat.  A problem that could have ruined the family’s vacation ended up creating some of the family’s best memories (and most delicious meals). Think how many people this family told of their wonderful experience.

Have clear expectations of employees and provide training.  Be very clear on what the expectations are for all staff, especially front-line personnel. Train everyone in customer service basics, putting special emphasis on those dealing one-on-one with customers. If your expectations change, your customer service training probably needs to change, too. 

Take the lead from companies known for their customer service.  The luxury Ritz-Carlton hotels select and train employees so well, they allow every employee to spend up to $2,000 to make a guest satisfied if something has gone seriously wrong.  Not every company has that kind of budget, but every company can train employees to take initiative, prevent mistakes before they happen, and fix them if they do occur.

Allow creativity.  Let your staff be creative within the bounds of their training in order to make each customer experience unique and positive.  United Airlines made national news when flight attendants briefly held a connecting flight so that a man could board and arrive at his destination in time to say goodbye to his dying mother.  Zappos, a company famous for customer service, doesn’t give its call-center employees scripts because it wants employees’ real personalities to shine through in every call. At some Ace Hardware stores, employees have to get management approval to say “no” to a customer.  They don’t have to contact a supervisor to say “yes”.  Though it can be a little frightening for a business owner to give employees this much latitude, it pays to encourage employees to make their interactions with customers memorable in a positive way.

Next month, we’ll look at additional techniques to enhance your customer service so that it helps boost your bottom line, including how to ask customers for honest feedback on your performance.