Research from a key sources, such as Technical Assistance Research Project, the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs, and the Profit Impact of Marketing Strategy database, shows that companies with the best service:
- Charge more for their products
- Enjoy stronger customer retention
- Gain market share
- Make more profit
- Offer greater job security and more opportunities to their employees
- Have more higher employee retention and engagement
Most companies and industries use some form of customer survey process to get feedback from customers on the quality of their service. (Find out how your company does this, keep abreast of the results. If they don’t do this recommend that they do.) Organizations like J.D. Power and Associates, the Consumer Union (publisher of Consumer Reports), and the University of Michigan (which conducts the Customer Satisfaction Index survey) rate companies across industries. Why? For the reasons mentioned above. You can categorize service in three ways:
“Poor service” means a lack of concern or care. Unfortunately, some people might be better suited for jobs in the back room or might Plumber Leumeah benefit from extensive training. This group includes the waiter who walked up to a couple in her section, stuck out a hip, and said, “Hurry up and order. I’m on break in a few minutes!” This group includes traders who sold worthless derivatives to their clients. Did these people want to satisfy their customers? Unfortunately there are people and companies who deliver this kind of service everyday. They deliver moments of misery to their customers. Most companies like this don’t last long and they often have a revolving door of employee turnover.
“Average” service is only adequate. A large retailer had been #1 for years. If people needed clothes, tools, appliances, or electronics, they patronized this company. However, the company became so large that it lost focus and seemed to lose sight of customers changing needs. It went through tough times, downsized and refocused. It is no longer the largest retailer.
Being average means that you do not get better, and if there are problems, you point your finger in another direction. Average customer service reps do just enough to get by. Yet, companies in this category cannot say they are average. Could you imagine a company with the slogan “We are no worse than anyone else”? WOW! Now that is a phrase to motivate employees and customers alike. Instead, these companies claim to provide good service. In reality, they do little to distinguish themselves. They deliver moments of mediocrity to their customers and become just one of many “grey” options that customers can choose, usually because of convenience or lower prices.
“Excellent” customer service people really care, have great attitudes, and extend themselves to make customers feel special. The people or companies who fall into this category are friendlier, better, faster, and different. The employees with these positive attributes get promoted and rise to the top in their companies. The best companies in any industry tend to have the best customer service and dominate or lead their markets.
Excellent service is the waiter who smiles, pays attention to you, and has a sense of humor. It is the airline attendant that greets you when you get on the plane and creates a fun atmosphere for the trip. It’s the friendly employees in a grocery store that go out of their way to help you find something. It’s also the plumber who explains what he did and calls back later to see if everything is still okay. In addition, it is the pharmacist who is courteous and helpful and takes time for your questions. Excellent performers routinely go the extra mile and add value. These people become the superstars, both in person and on the phone. The companies in this category have most of their employees acting like the examples just described. They deliver consistent moments of magic to their customers. Companies like Nordstrom’s, Southwest Airlines and Disney are in this category and they are well-known for their exceptional service.
Where do you rate as an employee? Where does your company rate? Make your goal to learn how to deliver superior service yourself and to help others to do so. The resources for excellence are readily available if you are open to learning how to gain the bottom line advantage of excellent customer service ratings.