Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service
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Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service

Performance Research Associates

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  1. 224 pages
  2. English
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eBook - ePub

Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service

Performance Research Associates

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About This Book

What is quality customer service, and how do you consistently deliver it for your customers? Discover the answers in this go-to guide for helping business professionals deliver outstanding customer service that keeps customers coming back.

In this trusted customer service classic, the renowned business training and consulting services practice Performance Research Associates, Inc. lays bare the truth all companies have come to accept but few know what to do with: companies that emphasize customer service make more money and keep customers longer than those that don't.

For over two decades, this book has combined timeless wisdom with powerful tools, real-world examples, and the latest methods to provide customer service professionals an indispensable guide. With lighthearted examples and to-the-point solutions, Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service provides you with:

proven tips and strategies for exceeding customer needs and expectations,

determining the right times to bend or break the rules,

becoming fantastic fixers and powerful problem-solvers, using the RATER factors to wow your customers,

understanding cultural and generational differences,

and coping effectively with your most challenging customers.

Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service delivers new information on using social media for communication and service recovery, owning service encounters, responding positively to negative feedback, and more.

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Information

Publisher
AMACOM
Year
2011
ISBN
9780814417560
Edition
5

I
The Fundamental Principles of Knock Your Socks Off Service

Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service—the kind of service that makes a positive, lasting impression on your customers—takes more than simple courtesy. Much more.
The first fundamental is understanding what good service is from your customer’s point of view. What you do, how you do it, knowing how well it must be done, and doing it again and again—those are fundamental as well.
Delivering Knock Your Socks Off Service means creating a positive, memorable experience for every customer. It means exceeding expectations and satisfying needs—and in such a way that you’re seen as easy to do business with. It means looking for opportunities to wow and delight your customer in unique and unexpected ways.
The customer who experiences all that will be your customer again and again. When you deliver Knock Your Socks Off Service, everybody wins: Your customer, your company, and you.

1
The Only Unbreakable Rule:
To the Customer, You Are the Company

“Customer relations is an integral part of your job—not an extension of it.”
—William B. Martin
Quality Customer Service
Customers don’t distinguish between you and the organization you work for. Nor should they. To your customer’s way of thinking, you are the company.
Customers don’t know how things get done behind doors or from the ends of the fingers that send company Tweets, Facebook posts, or e-mails. They don’t know your areas of responsibility, your job description, or what you personally can and cannot do for them. And they don’t care. To customers, those things are your business, not theirs.
Their attitude and focus is clear and straightforward: “Help me with this purchase, please.” “Serve me my meal.” “Solve my problem.” “Process my order, now.” Whether customers’ feelings about the company are good or bad often relates directly to their experience with you and the way you help them meet their needs.
Each interaction between a customer and a service professional is one moment in the chain of the customer’s experience. If you’re a service person, and you get it wrong at your link in the chain, you are very likely erasing from the customer’s mind all the memories of good treatment he or she may have had up to that moment. But if you get it right, you have a chance to undo all the wrongs that may have happened before the customer got to you. And, in today’s world, the faster you do it, the happier they are.
Consider this small example from a trip to Walt Disney World—the land where magical service abounds! A friend of ours was there recently, enjoying a hot, summer day at the Magic Kingdom. After waiting in line for about 20 minutes for an ice cream cone, she started off down Main Street USA, licking intently. She glanced away for a second, and when she looked back, found herself staring dumbfounded at an empty cone! What had happened? An uninvited sea gull had swooped down and scooped the ice cream right out of the cone. She was stunned, but continued her walk down Main Street more than a little miffed at the situation. Seconds later, a young man carrying a broom and dust pan, approached her: “Excuse me, Ma’am, I saw that bird dive at your ice cream. Unfortunately, I see that fairly frequently. Disney’s sea gulls pretty much know no fear. May I escort you back to get you another cone? That was cookies and cream, wasn’t it?” Our friend was thunderstruck. What could have been a negative moment turned full circle and is now a favorite Disney World memory; one she loves to share with others.
Just like that Disney employee, you can make or break the chain of great service and memorable experiences. Is it fair that so much can depend upon you? Nope. But fair has nothing to do with it.
When your job involves serving customers and dealing with the public, how good a job you do with and for them—for the nice and the nasty, the smart and the dumb, the people you’d like to take home to mother, and those you really wish had never been born—determines how successful your company will be. In short:
You Are The Company.
TIP: Use / instead of they or we. To a customer, the company begins and ends with you. Using I shows that you understand and accept that: “I’m sorry you had to look so long to find the dress department. May I help you find anything else?”
Being the Company: It’s Everything You Do
Some of the things you do to provide Knock Your Socks Off Service are relatively simple and easy, such as choosing your language carefully.
Other actions you take are more complex. Customers expect you to make the organization work for them. They expect you to understand the big picture and to be able to answer their questions, solve their problems, and refer them to just the right people for just the right things.
TIP: Saying “the policy is….” or “they won’t allow ….” tells customers you are just a clerk. If that’s the way you feel, you won’t ever be able to help them—and could easily be replaced by a machine or walked on like so much carpet. Verbally separating yourself from the company in the customer’s mind can take you off the hot seat with unhappy customers, but it plants a seed of doubt in the customer’s mind. It says “you may not be able to trust me to help you.”
What your customers want and need is changing constantly. So is your company, and so are you. How can you possibly keep up? Let the following three questions guide your personal-service efforts. Don’t just ask them once. Ask them all the time. Use the information they provide to choose actions that will Knock the Socks Off your customers.
1. What do my customers want from me, and from my company? Think about what your customers need and what your customers expect. If you don’t know—ask around. The seasoned senior associates will have a pretty good idea.
2. How do support areas—for example, billing or shipping—work to serve my customers? Consider your role in helping the different areas of your company work in harmony for your customer. Who do you need in your corner to help you help your customers?
3. What are the details—little things—that make a big difference in my customers’ satisfaction? Knock Your Socks Off Service means paying attention to what’s important in your customers’ eyes. Do you know what counts for your customers?
Being the company to your customers is what makes the work you do both challenging and rewarding. In your one-on-one interaction with customers, the once vague, impersonal company takes on shape and substance. In your hands is the power to make that contact magical and memorable. In your hands is the power to keep customers coming back.
From this moment forward, make this your pledge:
“Look out customer—I’m gonna knock your socks off!”

2
Know What Knock Your Socks Off Service Is

“Customers perceive service in their own unique, idiosyncratic, emotional, irrational, end-of-the-day, and totally human terms. Perception is all there is!”
—Tom Peters
Management guru
Customers are demanding. And they have every right to be. Today’s customers have more options—and less time—than ever before. If your organization doesn’t offer what they want or need, if you don’t interact with them in a manner that meets or exceeds their expectations, or if you aren’t quick about it, they will just walk on down the street—or let their fingers surf the ’net—and do business with one of your competitors.
And if you don’t have customers, you don’t have a job!
Researchers consistently find that it costs five times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep one you already have. But many businesses think only of making the sale instead of developing long-term customer relationships. Even more disturbing, researchers also find that at any given time, as many as one customer in four is dissatisfied enough to start doing business with someone else—if he or she can find someone else who promises to do the same thing that you do but in a slightly more satisfying way. That’s as many as twenty-five out of every one hundred people your organization does business with.
Most disturbing of all is the finding that only one of those twenty-five dissatisfied customers will ever tell you that he or she is dissatisfied. Today’s customers are more likely to put a review on a web site (Yelp, City Search, Twitter, Facebook) that could have significant impact on your business. In fact, you’ve probably noticed from your own experience how rare it is to deal with customers who can do a really good job of telling you what they want. More often, they just expect you to know—and are disappointed when you don’t.
That’s why companies spend a lot of time and money these days observing customers as they shop—trolling the Internet, monitoring web sites, talking to them on the phone, and meeting them face-to-face. Like miners working a claim for the gold they know is there, today’s businesses collect and sort customer comments, looking for the complaints and the compliments that provide clues about what people want today—and how their needs may change tomorrow.
As a customer service professional, you frequently draw on the knowledge your company has acquired about customers. But you have another, equally important source of information: your own day-to-day contact with your customers. From personal experience, you know quite a lot about what your customers want: which actions meet their expectations, which exceed them—and which disappoint them. You are the “listening post” for your organization.
That’s your own special edge, the foundation on which to build your own unique way of providing Knock Your Socks Off Service.
Getting Yourself Organized: The RATER Factors
It’s helpful to have a framework that captures the multiple service factors that determine the quality of a customer’s experience with your company. The framework we like a lot was invented by Texas A&M researcher Dr. Leonard Berry and his colleagues at Texas A&M University. They have found that customers evaluate service quality on five factors:
1. R eliability. The ability to provide what was promised, dependably and accurately.
2. A ssurance. The knowledge and courtesy you show to customers and your ability to convey trust, competence, and confidence.
3. T angibles. The physical facilities and equipment and your own (and others’) appearance.
4. E mpathy. The degree of caring and individual attention you show customers.
5. R esponsiveness. The willingness to help customers promptly.
Chances are, almost everything you do to and for your customers falls into one of these categories. Consider these common examples:
• When you fulfill a customer order on time, you show reliability.
• When you smile and tell a customer, “I can help you with that”—and do—you build assurance.
• When you take the time to make yourself and your work area presentable, you are paying attention to the tangibles.
• When you are sensitive to an individual customer’s needs when solving a problem, you show empathy.
• When you notice a customer puzzling over a product and offer help and information, you show responsiveness.
All five factors are important to your customers. In the next five chapters, we’ll look at each of these pieces of the customer service puzzle in more detail to see how they combine to create people-pleasing Knock Your Socks Off Service.
TIP: Combining the first letter of each factor— R eliability, A ssurance, T angibles, E mpathy, R...

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