I am sure that we have all had dealings with a business where you could be forgiven for thinking that their internal customer service mantra was:
‘It’s not all about you’
Sometimes your emotions are almost neutral (you basically got what you paid for) and sometimes your emotions can be more extreme and possibly violent (they forgot to add cheese …again!)
However, every now and again you get the opposite. Sometimes a business and its staff seem to do everything perfectly.
They understand your needs and appear to have an ability to predict a perfect approach for you as an individual.
These businesses and their staff appear to provide you with more than you were expecting.
Often the best part is that the staff deliver (or over-deliver) this great service and/or product whilst appearing as if they are genuinely pleased to see you (i.e. they smile and seem happy) and are enjoying experiencing the pleasure of your company.
If on these rare and very special occasions, you were asked to provide some feedback regarding customer service your answer may well be:
Mini Case Study: The Marriott Surfers Paradise
The inspiration for this article came from a recent stay at the Marriott Surfers Paradise.
The room and views were great.
The grounds were wonderful.
The pool was awesome (especially the beach pool complete with fish).
The staff were absolutely awesome.
The staff in particular I feel deserve special mention as they were certainly the key that brought the bricks and mortar together to form a wonderful experience. Numerous staff ranging from cleaners in the elevator, the pool staff, the kids club staff through to reception, to the ladies in the Canapés room did lots of things naturally, with a pleasant word and smile and in a way that made my family and I feel that it was all about us!)
Suffice to say, I was delighted with my experience staying at the Marriott Surfers Paradise!
The Marriott has made customer satisfaction a very high profile goal and has integrated this goal throughout its product development (e.g. the venue, rooms, grounds, pools and other facilities etc.).
In addition, the Marriott has also instilled a culture of customer service amongst its entire staff. Even roles not always associated with customer service played their part including the lovely lady responsible for cleaning the elevator who was able to contribute to our experience in a really nice way.
So it was the combination of product and service working together to maximise the positive impact on the customer.
Why not Delight all of your Customers?
Well, because it’s not easy for one thing.
A business may be able to pull a rabbit out of the hat now and again and delight the odd customer or two. However, this does not constitute awesome and consistent customer service.
The art of delighting most of your customers most of the time is not easy and requires commitment, focus and investment.
Customer Service Tips
There is no shortage of customer service tips available on the internet.
However, most provide only superficial benefits unless you have committed your business and your staff to truly maximising the overall experience for your customers.
There are some key steps and decisions to consider that will make your quest to improve customer service levels more achievable and sustainable.
Key Steps for preparing your Business to Delight your Customers
Getting to a point where your customers will be consistently delighted will not be easy, however, there are some key steps that will assist you in this journey.
This first step is about taking a bit of a reality check regarding your own intentions and also your current levels of customer service (i.e. the overall experience that customers currently receive when dealing with your business). Are you really committed to taking the steps required to deliver outstanding customer service that will consistently delight your customers?
There are many companies out there who view this level of customer services as more of a ‘nice-to-have’ and are not willing to make the investment and commitment required.
- Review your Strategy
When you have decided that you want to invest in and commit to raising your levels of customer service it will be useful to refer to your Strategic Plan or your Marketing Plan.
Key Marketing Planning and Decision Making areas to review include:
- Your Primary and Secondary Target Markets and all of the information that you have collated regarding your most profitable customer groups
- The Needs Analysis or Summary of Needs that you have prepared based on your understanding of your Primary and Secondary Target Markets
- Your Desired Brand Positioning where you have defined how you want your customers to perceive your business and brand
Reviewing your marketing planning decisions in the above areas will provide the platform for defining what is required for your business to consistently ‘Delight’ your customers.
The next step is to prepare a definition or statement of your goals or standards for customer service. Define your customer service standard in a way that it can serve as a benchmark for:
- Clear and effective communication within your business and your team
- Your staff induction program
- Your ongoing staff training program
- Any staff motivation or incentive programs that you run
- Customer service surveys
- Other aspects of shaping the customer service culture within your business
- Develop Staff Culture and Train
Now that you have defined the benchmarks for your customer service and/or for ‘Delighting’ your customers you need to ensure that your whole team is embracing the exact same goals and mindset.
Training is important and is more than just a once-off intensive customer service session. Rather, what is required is a planned program of customer service training. Regular staff training will help to keep your customer service goals top of mind in addition to continually improving skills.
- Monitor and Correct
Now that you have defined your customer service objectives and have communicated with your staff you need to develop tools (e.g. surveys or feedback cards etc.) and systems (e.g. regular observations or customer interviews etc.) for measuring outcomes.
When you identify customer service levels that do not meet your defined standards you then need to take steps to correct the situation. Steps required may include:
- Double-checking that you have effectively shared and communicated your customer service goals
- Developing or refining a particular business system to make it easier to ‘delight’ the customer
- Providing additional training
- Other staff or business system related steps required to ensure that your customers are regularly ‘delighted’ to the standards that you have defined
Are your Customers Delighted?
I have chosen the term ‘Delight’ to describe what I consider to be the ideal outcome that the customer would like to experience when spending their money with you.
So far I have not been able to think of a business or organisation where there is not the potential to adopt a mindset of striving to delight the customer.
I encourage you to take a moment to consider what the overall customer experience is for your business and whether it is as you want it to be.