?Good customer service is key to any business. Your competitors are competing with
you not only in terms of products and price, but also in terms of their experience of
your service and your people. In times of recession and low spending, good customer
service can give us an edge. However, do we know exactly what makes customer
Three Types of Customer Experience
Imagine a Customer in any situation. It could be buying in a shop, or interacting by
telephone, or in a business-to-business situation. There are three types of experience
that the customer can have in this situation.
The first is the PERFECT experience, the Customer's expectations are totally met.
The Customer gets what they want, the quality is high, good value for money and fast,
efficient service. There are no negatives for this Customer, everything was exactly as
they would expect.
The second type of experience is the NEGATIVE experience, expectations are not
met. Again in a shop, the Customer may not find what they want, or the quality is
poor, or the price does not provide good value for money. It is easy for the business
owner to check these contributors to a negative experience, but it takes a high degree
of awareness to see the negative triggers on the customer service side of the business.
In a shop, it may be the smell, or the hygiene, or the way the shop is laid out. It could
be long queues, or someone stacking shelves when they should be serving. But the
simple things like lack of eye contact, lack of courtesy, chewing or chatting to a
colleague can create the most negative experiences. On the telephone the equivalent
might be silence, not using the Customer's name, using negative language or
breathing heavily into the phone.
The Positive Experience
Many people think that the perfect experience outlined above is the ideal, GOOD
customer service, but it is not. It is true that businesses must be keenly aware of what
will trigger a negative experience so they can avoid this, and they must be able to
identify what will make up the perfect experience. However, this will NOT keep
Customer's coming back! Perfection is not enough.
Fast efficient service from a smiling, courteous Customer Service person is
EXPECTED. It will not leave a positive impression with the Customer, and they will
not remember it. It is a NEUTRAL, highly forgettable experience. They will
definitely remember the negative experience. We can all remember bad experiences
we have had, and we will relate these at every opportunity.
This is the goal of GOOD customer service, to create a positive and equally
memorable experience. To do this, you must deliver the EXTRA positive experience,
the extra 10%. This is exceeding expectations - perfection plus the extra 10%.
Examples of Exceeding Expectations
How to deliver the extra positive experience is unique to every business. It is that
extra personal touch, or going the extra mile. When you go looking for the extra 10%,
you will find good examples in your line of work. In a shop, it may be the attendant
who will go the extra mile to hunt for what you want. It may be that they remember
your order and have it ready when you come in, or that they run short of your product
but they hold the last one for you, their regular Customer.
On a telephone it may be the Customer Service agent who really will chase that other
department to answer your query, and who will call you back to make sure you are
satisfied. Even more simply, it is the Customer Service agent who gets the job done
quickly and easily, and also uses so many positive, cheerful words that the whole
process was a pleasure for you.
Improving Customer Service
The simplest way to improve your customer service is to improve your ability to
identify these three types of experience in YOUR business, or in each department.
1. What makes up the perfect experience? What are the essentials?
2. What will trigger a negative? What things must we avoid doing?
3. What will deliver the extra positive experience? What can we do to go the extra
mile? What will add that extra personal touch in an appropriate way?
Work on these with your Team on a regular basis, and you will always improve your
Customer's experience of your organisation.
Kate Tammemagi provides Customer Care Training in Ireland. She designs fully
tailored Customer Care Courses in Businesses and Call Centres.