Customer Service: The Problem With “Wow”

It’s an established customer service motto that it’s great for business to delight one’s customers. After all, no one raves about “good” anymore because good is the expected norm. In striving for better than good why not go for 100% all the time?

There are some contexts in which 100% is entirely possible. For instance many car assembly plants manage to push out hundreds of brand new motor vehicles that are trouble free, at least for the first few months.

But the reality is that not all businesses experience the same complexities and difficulties. Whereas a well-made motor vehicle operating on good quality tarred roads and serviced within specifications may produce trouble free motoring for years, the same ease of operation cannot be expected from a grader operating on a coal mine in harsh conditions. One expects the machinery will operate in the context of it’s environment. The same can be expected from humans in their dealings with one another.

“The truth is that you can’t afford to blow hot & cold with your customers”

The central point is that it is no use setting up “wow” experiences that cannot be maintained in the long term, as the initial delight soon turns to disappointment. The reasoning is that if you could “wow” us last week when you were making a special effort, what about this week and the week after? A case in point is the post Christmas sale. Customers may feel that many items were over-priced before the sale, and queue up to take advantage of the real price when it’s finally on offer.

So how can every business implement a sustainable delight factor in their dealings with customers?

Here are a 7 ways you can keep “wow” real and sincere:

  1. Set the service benchmark well above “good” but a few notches below perfect. This allows for a recovery if things don’t run according to plan.
  2. Have a recovery strategy in case things go wrong. If implemented properly, this can elevate the customers experience of your service. “Things went wrong, but they sure fixed it quick!”
  3. Make sure that everyone in your organisation clearly understands what your service benchmarks are. They should be able to tell you what they are.
  4. Train your staff to deliver the expected levels of service (knowing must translate into doing).
  5. Stop trying to wow the customer today if you can’t keep it up tomorrow. Customers want consistency – they expect you to be the same every day.
  6. Reframe criticism as valuable feedback. If customers have been kind enough to speak up you should be thanking them as they’re doing you a favour.
  7. Keep your internal channels of communication open. Because your people are on the coal face dealing with customers, their suggestions will be invaluable in improving your sustainable service levels. Do you encourage, acknowledge and action staff suggestions or do you ignore them?

Investing in a consistent customer excellence culture in your organisation could be one of the smartest decisions you’ll ever make. That’s because in a competitive market customers will only continue coming back to you if they feel that they know what to expect from you. Of course, that’s entirely in your hands.

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