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A Mind for Customer Service – Service Intelligence
Developing a mind for customer service starts with understanding the outcome of excellent service. The main one is to create customer intimacy by giving irresistible customer service that draws on heart service and common sense decisions.
The first step towards achieving this outcome is accepting that core values are the most crucial drivers of excellent customer service. Your core values determine your attitude. From these one develops culture, brand and business strategies. It starts with asking, “Do you truly believe in providing excellent service; is it just a part of your job; or is it simply an extension of the sales effort?” In an organisation, this implies everyone needs to be on the same page and acting consistently.
The next step is to analyse and understand the complexity of customer expectations. This includes customers’ worldview of what they perceive is and is not reasonable in a current context. For example, they would have different service expectations in a besieged war-like environment compared to being in an up-market London supermarket. The industry your organisation operates in also contributes to the shaping of customer expectations. We expect more from a restaurant than a supermarket and more from a supermarket than an internal affairs government department.
Then, examine the explicit and implicit promises arising from your organisation’s strategy; it is marketing, advertising and sales methods. These all shape customer expectations. Once you have a good understanding of expectations, it is time to examine the moments of truth customers experience when they interact with your organisation.
At this point, you can create a unifying credo and formulate policies to define the levels of service you will deliver and the monitoring systems you will implement. Staff training, appraisals and rewards follow to ensure that planned service levels are met and at times exceeded.
I currently believe the following seven points describe what all employees should be taught, to help them develop a mind for customer service.
- How our policies and procedures deliver the customer service levels that match our industry needs and our organisational strategy
- Managing own and customers’ emotions
- Increasing energy and intensity to deliver against customer expectations
- Creating an environment of staff and customer confidence
- Understanding the role of risk taking to meet customer needs
- Developing skills across the five customer service components
- Responding with an empathy not limited by policy
These actions are layered and should be unpacked to discover the knowledge and skills required to bring them into reality.
Finally, I want to make the claim that talking exceptional customer service is very easy– but getting your organisation to deliver it in line with the intention is very tough. Note, most customers dont warn by complaining – they move on to find the next great offer.