Three Foundational Attributes of Incredible Customer Service

Feb 24, 2014, Written by Sue Miley

appleI remember when I bought my first Apple products.  It started with an iPhone. I held out though until about the 3rd version.  It was right when Hurricane Gustav hit and we had no electricity for a week.

I had just bought the iPhone a week or so before and it was my lifeline.  It worked and I had all of my information, contacts, appointments, and notes readily available, not to mention access to the internet!  Because of the dramatic situation we were in, it made the iPhone seem even more miraculous.

Being a newbie, I didn’t really understand it, but it just worked.

Later that year, my husband bought me my first Macbook Pro for Christmas.  I was nervous having been a PC user for decades.  He told me if I was going to embrace it, I had to let go of my regular laptop cold turkey.  No, I couldn’t run them side by side for awhile to get used to it.

It did take a week or so to stop trying to use old commands and mouse moves.  But then it clicked.  And when it clicked, it was magic.

It all just worked.

Soon my iPhone and my Mac were synced and they stayed synced all of the time.  I put an appointment in on one device, viola, it was there on the other.

No manual syncing.  No losing data off one or the other.

Incredible Customer Service is Invisible

It just worked.

It was that magical customer experience that Jobs always spoke of.

To me, it was the ultimate in service.

I have found that incredible raving fan customer service is invisible.  It is seamless.  Things just work.

The Good And Bad of Customer Service

An example of a service where I have experienced both, bad and good, is at a doctor’s office.  In some doctors offices:

  • you don’t know which line to check in at
  • you wait forever and a day
  • you repeat your ailments to three people, not sure who is the one to give this information to
  • you aren’t sure how to check out, if you owe any money, and what paper work is required

In others, (okay very few) there is:

  • great signage that tells you where to go
  • the receptionist tells you where to wait and how they will call you
  • they actually take you on time
  • they walk you to where you need to go
  • they explain who is who and what will happen
  • they walk you to check out
  • the people checking you out are quite knowledgeable and tell you if you need to pay or do anything

My ENT clinic is like this second one.  I don’t know if they ever cure me, but I keep going back because they have incredibly seamless customer service.  I am usually in and out within an hour.  I have waited on other doctors an hour.

Three Foundational Attributes of Incredible Customer Service

There are three basic attributes of incredible customer service to make the experience, regardless of what it is, as pleasant as it can be:

1. A customer-centric process

This means that from the customer’s view, not yours, each step in the process is well-known in advance, easy to follow, and actually works.  Have you ever tried to buy something online that required so many sign-ups, sign-ins, change of screens, etc. and you still don’t know what the product costs?  Or you go somewhere for a service, like a massage, and they don’t tell you where to go, what to do, or what to expect? You feel like you are standing around looking stupid because you aren’t sure where to wait.

We have been working with our clients on a customer orientation process.  Some of our clients supply extensive services to clients that cost the client tens of thousands of dollars and many times hundreds of thousands of dollars.  We don’t want to risk losing a client because of set-up problems, communication issues or billing problems.  We use this documented process to walk the new client through what to expect, who on the company’s team to contact regarding which areas, and how problems will be resolved if any arise.  It has improved the customer satisfaction as well as the efficiency of our client’s projects.

2. Doing exactly what we say we will do

It is actually rare these days to get what you thought you were purchasing, on time, and within the budget or price quoted.

There is nothing more frustrating than buying something from someone, and then finding out later, what you consider standard is actually an additional cost or change of scope.

Either the process didn’t follow the first point above, being customer-centric, so that you understood what you were getting or the marketing/packaging of the product or service over-sold the deliverable.

It is easier to be consistent and deliver exactly what is promised when your product is a standard manufactured item.  It is much more difficult for custom products and services.

However, if we instill the first attribute of a customer-centric process into our product or service, it is easier to navigate and keep the customer informed even in custom situations.

3. Knowledgeable people

As hard as we try, our process will not be a perfect experience for everyone, and we may run into some problems trying to deliver on our product and services.

The best prevention and solution is knowledgeable people.  They will help us to deliver on the first two aspects described.

But when you get the one client who calls with questions or just doesn’t get our perfectly laid out process, you need knowledgeable people available to help them.

A knowledgeable person can quickly fix a problem with a client, whether it is the client’s understanding or there is an actual issue with the product or service.  When you aren’t happy with your purchase, the one thing that can make it twice as bad, is when you call to get help and you get someone who doesn’t have a clue.

I hate to say this out loud, but I would almost prefer a knowledgeable person that can quickly understand and fix my problem, than a happy, friendly person who has no clue and actually messes things up more.

There are so many aspects to what people deem excellent customer service.  However, these are three foundational attributes to creating a seamless customer experience that just works!

It took me several years to break down and buy an iPad.  By this time I was used to the Apple experience.  I pulled out my new iPad and quickly plugged in all of my information.

And viola, it just worked!

Just as I expected it would!

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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