Common questions people ask me are usually the 5 W's and H of providing exceptional customer service (who, what, where, when, why, and how). My last blog was on who should provide exceptional customer service and to whom? The next several blogs will cover each topic in detail.

What is exceptional customer service? Someone said to me once, “I provide a product and not a service so does customer service apply to my business?”  Absolutely – it doesn’t matter if you provide a product or service, for a business to be successful and grow market share, you must provide exceptional customer service.

But, what is exceptional customer service? Think back to an awesome customer service experience you have had. What made it so incredible?

One such experience for me was nearly four years ago when we were staying at The Westin Jersey City Newport on our vacation to NYC, which happened to be the same time as my son’s 7th birthday. Upon check-in my son told the front desk agent that it was his birthday in two days. She replied appropriately. She continued to check us in and was telling us our room was on the 7th floor. My son, told the agent that he loved tall buildings. She said that she could check to see if there was anything higher.  Surprisingly, she moved us the 28th floor. He was so excited to be nearly at the top of the hotel. Two days later (on my son’s birthday), we went out to do some sight-seeing. We stopped at the concierge to ask about the best way to get to all the places we wanted to see. He gave us great instructions. We had a great day. Later that day when we came back, we walked into our room to find a birthday card for my son signed by some of the hotel staff, a gourmet tray of cookies and an ice bucket filled with assorted milk. Talk about going above and beyond, totally exceeding our expectations.

So, when I think of what exceptional customer service is, I think of it as exceeding expectations, being honest, educating the customer, being polite and friendly, communicating along the way, treating the customer the way they want to be treated, being on time and responsive to customer inquiries, and as in the case of our hotel experience thinking of what little thing I can do to WOW the customer. That is exceptional customer service that makes customers’ experiences legendary. But, does that legendary customer service exist anymore?

Unfortunately, providing even basic, good customer service is becoming a thing of the past. Companies think they are doing great at it. There are easy and inexpensive ways to do a reality check.

The easiest way is to look for online reviews about your company. You cannot please everyone 100% of the time. You might find a negative review here or there, but the good ones should far outweigh the negative. You can also set up alerts for online reviews being submitted about your company, giving you the ability to respond immediately to bad reviews. Don't assume the absence of reviews is good. This could mean one of two things. First, it simply may mean you need to point out to your customers that you would appreciate them taking the time to do an online review. But, it could also mean that your company is only mediocre.

The second way is to ask customers for testimonials. If you have a hard time getting an abundance of testimonials, there is likely something customers are not telling you. After all only 4% of unhappy customers complain. Some studies suggest that for every one serious customer problem, there are 26 more out there that you will never hear about directly from the customer. Those unhappy customers are the ones who tell someone else, but won’t tell you. They are the ones that can damage your reputation through bad word-of-mouth advertising.

Another way to do a customer service reality check and is well worth the investment is to have your place of business mystery shopped by a third party mystery shopper service. Mystery shopper services can provide over the phone and in-person mystery shops. For some companies, it may be difficult to do a mystery shopper program, so they should consider our last recommendation.

One final way you can monitor your customer service on the phone is by having a good phone system that records calls. A good phone service and system, without interruptions in service, good sound quality, ability to run reports, and ability to record calls is a key factor in providing exceptional customer service. It can also be a worthwhile investment and often times not quite as costly as what you may have thought.

Providing exceptional customer service is a must for companies to succeed and surpass their competition. It can be one of the best competitive advantages a company has. After all, studies indicate that 85% of customers will pay more for a product or service if they know they will receive exceptional customer service. And, good word-of-mouth advertising and referrals is the best marketing tool you can invest, with a high ROI.

If you are ready to take your company’s customer service to exceptional, contact us for a complimentary phone consultation. If you are interested in some of the measurement tools we wrote about, we have trusted resource partners who we recommend for these services, and you can bet they have exceptional customer service to be on our resource partner list.

About the author

Beth Boen

Beth Boen is on a mission at The VOICE Customer Service Training - to restore the lost art of providing exceptional customer service and turn the tide on poor customer service becoming the norm! Her blogs contain tips on how to provide exceptional customer service in everything you do!

comments powered by Disqus