loveIf You’re an Expert, Have an Opinion!  Especially When it Comes to Customer Service…

Sometimes the best way to understand better business practices is to experience similar emotions in different situations.  I recently spent some time in the hospital with a loved one who was dealing with cancer. We spent our time in and out of appointments, dealing with multiple members of the care staff, and waiting (A lot of waiting). I made the mental connection to business when we were dealing one of the many Doctors. He was carefully explaining the results of a procedure to all of us, asked considerate questions, and even cracked jokes. When we asked what options were available, the Doctor took the time to explain exactly all of the information we were hoping to find out. Many of the previous Doctors we dealt with were not as thorough, compassionate, or even cooperative. Some of them even said things like, “Surgery will be risky, so it’s up to you. It doesn’t matter to me what you decide, you just have to make a decision.” These interactions make patients feel scared, confused, or even ashamed and embarrased for bothering the Doctor.

This was when I had my “ah-ha!” moment and realized that businesses have similar situations with their customers all the time. These are called OPPORTUNITIES. Opportunities to answer questions, to be an expert, and to make a difference.

It got me thinking.

It reminded me of other instances where someone had the opportunity to provide quality customer service. I had a problem with a product I ordered online, so I called to discuss what my options were to solve the problem. Without much discussion, the customer service rep told me, “Sorry, you can return the product to us for a refund. You just have to pay the shipping. Let me tell you how to do that.” What a gross misrepresentation of the discussion we were having! I did not ask to return the product, just had some questions about my challenges with it. They had the opportunity to solve my challenge, offer me options, and perhaps even up-sell me with something else if they had done it right. Instead, their solution was to just accept their customer was dissatisfied and lose them forever. C’mon.

Another common situation like this is when I go to a restaurant. I often ask the server what they recommend if I had not eaten there before. The answer I appreciate the most is along the lines of, “Oh, well our most popular dish is ___ and if you like steak, you will love our ____.” They know the menu. They know what their customers like. They also have the opportunity to provide a high level of service and even upsell. “But I would also say that if you are hungry, you should start with ____ and a glass of the ____wine. So tasty!” I am a sucker every time that happens, will order whatever they tell me, and tip quite well. But far too often I get this conversation:

Me: “What would you recommend?”
Server: “I don’t know? What do you like?”
Me: “I was hoping you could tell me what dish you suggest.”
Server: “Depends what you want.”
Me: “Okay, thanks – give me a couple more minutes please.”

They missed another golden opportunity to deliver “Plus Two Customer Service. (+2)”

What is Plus Two Customer Service?

When I first came up with the “Plus Two” model, it reminded me of that “7 minute abs” scene from There’s Something About Mary, but I assure you it’s not. I think there are essentially three levels of service:

  1. Customer Service: If you follow your company’s policies and handle your customers accordingly, you can call that customer service. This is also where customers can fill out a “satisfaction card.” Basically, did you do what you were supposed to do? It reminds me of the comedy sketch by Chris Rock about taking credit for stuff your supposed to do.  (Which, be warned, has some foul language)
  2. Customer Service Plus One:You provide your service with enthusiasm and offer solutions. You make the customer experience a pleasant one. people may mention you on the customer comment cards.
  3. Customer Service Plus TWO: You blow them away with your service and ability to solve their unique challenges. You are not looking for satisfied customers, you want loyal fans of you and your company. You look at a customer complaint as an opportunity to understand their problem, offer solutions, and do something extra that they will tell everyone about! Not only will people mention you on a comment card, but they will track down your boss and make sure they know how great you are. They will brag about your service on their social media sites. Learn how to make the most of the social media side with my post on creating raving fans with an online referral program.

I also recently wrote about GASS (Give a Shit Sales) and these two concepts should really be used in conjunction with each other.

So look at the customer-facing people in your organization and think about whether they provide customer service, +1, or even +2. Would their service be something worthy of talking about? 

image: by Thomas R. Stegelmann

Joe Girard
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