What is excellent customer service?
Most businesses brag about having excellent customer service. “Excellent customer service” sounds like a good thing to offer, but is it something customers really care about? What constitutes excellent customer service? Is it following through on a guarantee? Is it delivering a product or service according to a set of company guidelines? Or is excellent customer service something else altogether?
While we should seek to provide our customers with an excellent experience every time they interact with us, how can we tell if we have succeeded? Our integrity – and the law – requires us to follow through on a guarantee, which makes that guarantee a deliverable. Delivering a product or service according to company guidelines is a good way to ensure compliance with the company mission, but at it’s heart this is a process.
In this post, I explained why your customers don’t care about your process at all. Often, they don’t care about your deliverable, either. Your customers really want results.
So, what is the result of excellent customer service?
It’s how your customer feels.
The great customer service caper
About a year ago, after nearly 19 years of accident-free driving, I wrecked my new car.
Within three months.
Both times, I took my car to the same repair shop. Both times, the repair shop did a beautiful job. The car truly looked as good as new.
Unfortunately, about three weeks after the second set of repairs, the hood started to vibrate when we drove the car on the highway. “No problem!” the friendly service tech said. “We offer a lifetime guarantee on all our work.”
Thus began the great customer service caper. I took the car back in, and the service tech tightened the hood. Everything was fine for a few weeks, and then the vibration started again. I returned the car again, and they tightened the hood again.
Over the course of the next 10 months, this process was repeated numerous times. We would drive the car for a while with no issues, and then the vibration would start again. The service tech couldn’t figure out what was causing the vibration. In fact, he began to question if maybe I was “imagining it.” My husband took him for a ride to show him what we were seeing.
He tightened the hood again.
We asked the lead mechanic at the dealership where we bought the car if maybe the vibration was normal. He said it could be the tires, but he kind of doubted it. I did a Google search and discovered the previous model year had a hood vibration issue whenever the wheels were out of alignment. It was almost time for new tires anyway, so I held may breath, paid $800 for new tires and a wheel alignment…
…and the hood still shook.
I’m a pretty patient person. I mean, this continued for 10 months, and I spent nearly $1,000 trying to solve the problem myself. But, finally, we had had enough. We became a bit firmer in our requests for a resolution.
What happened next
I’ll go ahead and tell you, this story has a happy ending. The repair shop followed through on their guarantee. Technically, they went “above and beyond,” even going so far as to order a new hood, put it on the car, and let us drive it for a few weeks to see if the original hood was faulty.
Come to find out, when the repair work was done the second time, the hood latch was installed just a bit higher than it should have been. The repair shop fixed the latch, and – fingers crossed – the vibration seems to be gone for good.
If honoring guarantees or following procedures were “excellent customer service,” I would be raving about this shop’s customer service. I will tell anyone who asks that the repair shop does good work, and they stick by their guarantee. They even go that extra mile to make sure they have done everything possible to resolve any issues that arise.
But I can’t say they provide excellent customer service.
Here’s why: More than once, the service tech implied I might be imagining the vibration. Several times, he implied perhaps the hood was supposed to move a little when driving over bumpy roads. When we picked up the car after the last set of repairs, the office manager waved her hands over me and intoned, “Be happy this time.”
In short, even though the repair shop did everything they were required to do in regards to repairing the car, they did not make me feel like a valued customer. To the contrary, I felt like a nuisance.
Back to the beginning
So, what is excellent customer service, and how can you tell when you have provided it?
You have provided excellent customer service when your customer feels valued. This is so easy to accomplish. Ask yourself how you would like to be treated if you were the customer. What things would make your experience great? What would make you feel valued?
Then, do those things.
You sell your services by selling results. This applies to customer service, too. You provide excellent customer service by providing a result, and that result is a customer who feels valued.