The Art of Customer Service

The Art of Customer Service

by Cliff Lynch
16. January 2014 14:30

Several times yearly, Verinder Syal, a Chicago marketing consultant, publishes a very informative newsletter on marketing innovations and techniques. One of his best from 2013 contained a summary of The Art of Customer Service, taken from the book Reality Check: The Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition by Guy Kawasaki. Kawasaki was one of the Apple employees originally responsible for marketing the Macintosh in 1984. I believe this checklist is worth repeating and, with permission, I am including Syal's summary here.

  • Start at the top. The CEO's attitude toward customer service determines the quality of service that a company delivers.
  • Put the customer in control. This requires two leaps of faith: first trusting customers to not take advantage of the situation; second, trusting employees to make sound decisions.
  • Take responsibility for your shortcomings.
  • Don't point the finger.
  • Don't finger the pointer. Great customer service companies don't shoot the messenger.
  • Don't be paranoid. One of the most common justifications for lousy service is "What if everyone did this?"
  • Hire the right of people. The ideal customer-service person derives great satisfaction by helping people and solving problems.
  • Under-promise and over-deliver.
  • Integrate customer service into the mainstream. Customer service largely determines the company's reputation, so do not consider it a profit-sucking necessary evil.
  • Don't give them a sales pitch. When customers call for customer service or technical support, they are hardly in a mood for a sales pitch.
  • Use operating procedures, not scripts.
  • Use operators. Use people, not systems to answer the phones. (No push 1 for Sales, 2 for Billing, etc.)
  • Use a callback system.
  • Keep customers in the loop.
  • Make customers feel important.
  • Follow up. The difference between acceptable and great customer service is how often and how well the customer service department follows up on requests.

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