What is “World-Class Customer Service?”

on November 4, 2010

The recent economic turmoil has forced many of the organizations we work with to elevate the emphasis they place on customer service and the overall customer experience they create. These days it seems like everyone wants to be the Four Seasons or the Apple or the Starbucks of their industry. Makes sense. With less demand and fewer potential customers in the marketplace, attracting and retaining customers is more important than ever.

With so many organizations focused on the same thing, I was curious to see how consistent their efforts and goals were in this area. So I began asking people I met how they would describe “world-class customer service” in their business.

As you might imagine, this consistent question yielded far from consistent answers. Leaders used words like “customer intimacy” and “customer-centricity.” Marketing used words like “delight” and “exceed.” Operations used words like “problem resolution” and “handle time.” And customers said they just want to have their needs met with the least amount of effort.

The Internet was far less effective in producing a common definition. A Google search on “world-class customer service” produced 42,000,000 results in less than a half-second. Adding “definition” to the end of the search reduced the number a bit, but still produced 610,000 results.

Now imagine you’re an employee being asked to deliver a “world-class customer experience.” Where would you start? What would you do? Delight? Get intimate? Solve their problem? Change their sheets? Exchange their year-old shoes with no questions asked? Without a compelling vision translated into actions that are relevant to that industry and business, employees will make up their own version of “world-class customer service,” and that’s what will drive their actions.

Want to improve your customer satisfaction scores? Start by rallying the troops around a common definition of what the ideal customer experience looks like within your business. Your customer satisfaction scores will never improve at a rate faster than your ability to do this. And remember, all the customer really wants is for you to be easy to do business with. Low effort = high loyalty.

We’ll explore the key ingredients to an actionable customer experience vision next time!

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