"Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the customer gets out of it."
Like any discipline in life, there are some basics, some building blocks, some fundamentals of service that must be in place in order to create and sustain a superior position in the hearts and minds of your customers.
Great customer service organizations:
1. Act out of faith and not fear. They believe in the relationship that they have with their customers and do not worry about being taken advantage of by them. This allows those organizations to have fewer cumbersome rules and less burdensome red tape. In addition, they empower their employees to make decisions in the best interest of the customer which stimulates higher satisfaction and loyalty.
2. Act with consistency and decisiveness. They know both what they stand for and what they deliver. Staying on point allows them to deliver purposeful service and to develop a brand that is comfortable, familiar and sharable.
3. Act with a sense of authenticity. If necessary, they "lose the suit." Relationships are built between like-minded people. Style, personality, and creativity are all encouraged. Support of common values allow the organization's unique spirit to come out and be shared with the customer.
4. Provide "custom" service. They understand that a one-size-fits-all service effort actually only fits a few, not the many. They take the time to get as intimate as possible with each customer's specific needs, wants and desires. And to the best of their ability, they customize each customer's experience.
5. Act with radical sincerity. If a mistake is made, they apologize quickly. They do not leave the customer hanging waiting for a resolution. It is understood that despite any automated technology that might have been used to place an order that the relationship with the customer still ultimately exists between people. Retaining, strengthening or restoring a relationship with their customers is always the highest priority.
While there may be many layers of strategy and tactics woven into the execution of the customer service plan, these five elements will always be at the core of the best customer service companies.