Good customer service isn’t good enough and you might not even have that.
Back in the early 90s, Patty Smyth and Don Henley recorded a song called “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough.” They sang that although love is a big thing, sometimes it’s not enough to hold things together. The same can be true of “good” customer service.
Customer service has been shopped around town as the panacea for every business – the unique selling position that helps you differentiate yourself from the competition. While it can be very effective, it’s something everyone is doing. Or at least they think they are. But good is no longer good enough. Good is what’s expected.
These days, people expect great service. They long for moments when they will be delighted and surprised. Then that becomes an expectation too.
See the problem?
Our consumer expectations around the importance of personalization have exploded. While there’s a plethora of bad customer service, good customer service is our new average.
What’s a business to do?
When Good Customer Service Isn’t Enough
Don’t give up trying to provide good customer service. But “good” is yesterday’s “average.” If you want customer service to be your business’s unique selling proposition it needs to be stellar and unable to be duplicated. That’s a tall order but you can begin with these ideas:
Customer Service Can Never Overcome Incompetency
First, great customer service will not make up for an incompetent staff. Someone who’s exceptionally nice but gives you the run around because they don’t know what they’re doing won’t bring customers in over and over. Train your employees well from day one and remind them not to say, “today’s my first day.” The customer doesn’t care.
Every Employee Is in Customer Service
Next, everyone is in customer service. Yes, you may have a department or person dedicated to it but your marketing team, your receptionist, your valet, and anyone associated with your business is now (also) in customer service. That’s why they need to be trained accordingly, like these 21 customer service skills that every employee needs.
Customer Service Doesn’t Cover a Shotty Service or Product (or does it?)
This idea is debatable and depends on the customer and what you’re selling. There are some products or services that once you’re in, it’s a real pain to switch. In those cases, people are generally willing to put up with a lot before they end their business relationship with you, like banking for instance. Then there are others, like the restaurant industry, where one bad experience means you’ll never see that customer again.
Differentiating Yourself Through Customer Service
To truly stand out in this field you must know your service or product. You must train everyone on staff on what it means to delight your customers, and you must understand your industry and how easy you are to leave.
The next step between great service and extraordinary service is using data to personalize your approach and meet your customers’ needs before they even realize what those needs are. If you’ve ever dined in the formal dining room on a cruise ship you know what this feels like. After a few meals there and ordering your favorite drink each time, you may have come to the table with your favorite beverage waiting for you. They make it a point to meet your needs before you ask. You can do that same using data on your loyal customers.
Remember, you’re not shooting for good anymore. Good is what they expect. You’re shooting for “share on social media” kind of awesome.