Striving towards Superior Customer Service—Are we there yet?

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises; he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”  Mahatma Gandhi

In today’s social economy, the key to standing apart from the competition is the ability to provide exemplary customer service.  Although there are many tools, strategies and trainings available to help organizations provide exemplary customer experiences, it really boils down to engaging in three activities:

  •  Encourage compassion and empathy—Put yourself in the customer’s shoes.
  • Find solutions instead of excuses—People want to know what you can do for them instead of what you can’t do.
  • Go above and beyond—Give people more than they expect from you.

Each and every employee within the organization has an impact on customer service.  This includes the receptionist who answers the phone to the direct support professional who interacts with a client to the case manager who follows up on a request, the administrator who reviews a treatment plan, and the director who ensures that resources are available and so on.

We all know what good customer service and bad customer service is.  We don’t really need a formalized training to decipher the two; however, we do need to share customer experiences (both wonderful and horrific) to help one another learn from our mistakes.  Most of us don’t take the time to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes.  Instead, we are focused on “protecting” the organization and following policies and procedures, many of which don’t make a whole lot of sense.  We want to make things easier for ourselves and our company as opposed to our customers.

How then do we transcend this culture and learn from unhappy customers?   Well, we start by sharing stories and recognizing our contributions to dissatisfied customers.   In any situation where there is conflict, it is easier to recognize someone else’s contribution to what went wrong.  It is much harder to recognize our own contributions and mistakes, but that is where we need to start.

Dissatisfied customers will vent frustration through blogs, twitter, facebook and other social media sites as well as face to face interactions.  In an era where information is transmitted almost instantaneously, we need to be vigilant about going above and beyond in keeping customers satisfied.  The cool thing about customer service is that satisfied customers will react in the same way when they are impressed with our services, and serve as our biggest champions.

Service excellence is a consistent and premium attitude that begins and ends with each and every one of us.

What are you doing in your organization to deliver customer service excellence?