The value of exceptional customer service might not be clear upfront; however, it is invaluable!
I often hear my clients think about sacrificing “a little” customer service in order to save money or address other priorities. After all, it doesn’t seem like it should have a significant effect.
For example, are we willing to sacrifice in order to gain a good discount? Just think about your Procurement function – what is top priority? Total cost including service, quality, etc.? Or, do we say those are important but measure on cost? Or how about month-end shipments? Which is prioritized? Service or quarter-end sales revenue dollars? If you want to thrive long-term, it better be customer service!
In today’s new normal business environment, service is of paramount importance. Will you stand out from the crowd? Being “good” is no longer enough if you want to create loyal customers, generate referrals/ grow business and collaborate with customers for success. You must be differentiated from the competition.
The crucial importance reminds me of how simple yet exceptional service stood out in my mind a few years back. It was a regular evening, and I was excited to stop by Mimi’s to pick up my favorite pumpkin pancakes, coveted during their limited time available on the holiday menu. While stopping by the store prior to picking up dinner at Mimi’s, a woman backed into my car. Unfortunately, I saw her coming and blew my horn, but I couldn’t do anything but watch it happen. And, of course, she had a huge truck, and so she not only bumped my bumper but it damaged my hood as well.
After calling the police and finding out that they no longer will come out to non-injury accidents, I realized that I was on my own. So, we exchanged information etc. It all took a while, as she couldn’t find the information in her husband’s truck, and she had to borrow my cell phone to call him. He responded to her description of backing into someone by saying, “that’s what side mirrors are for”; thus, she broke down in tears, which didn’t help our situation.
An emotional 30 minutes later as we finished up the process, I got a phone call. It was Mimi’s – they wondered where I was because they didn’t want my pancakes to get cold. I told them that someone had backed into my car in a parking lot and so I ended up delayed but was finally on my way. By the time I arrived at Mimi’s, they made a completely new set of pancakes so they wouldn’t be cold, as they didn’t want me to have any more issues after the car incident. How impressive is that customer service!
After arriving home, I called my insurance agent and left a message. I was concerned about the appropriate process to follow to ensure I was covered and didn’t want any issues (after all, everyone hears the horror stories of people completely changing the story surrounding the accident while driving away from the scene). With excellent customer service, he called immediately upon arriving at the office the next morning.
My insurance agent demonstrates exceptional customer service – consistently. I found him by driving by his office when I first moved to California, and he went out of his way to help me with an MBA class related to insurance at the time. In this situation, it happened to occur on New Year’s Eve – of course! Thus, he planned to leave the office early but was very helpful in answering all of my questions and stayed late to help me with a few concerns. How many agents will pick up a non-essential phone call after closing hours on a holiday in order to help make a client comfortable? Again, that’s value!
Next I had to go to a body shop to get a ballpark estimate. I went to the same, approved body shop I had used previously solely due to their customer service. I was so impressed that I wasn’t upset that I had to bring the car back to readjust the doors – a big inconvenience I overlooked for exceptional service. They did not disappoint. The same manager was on duty. He was very helpful and provided information. I told him that I was anxious to get the estimate (as I was mainly worried and anxious because I didn’t want my car to be totaled), and he went out of his way to ensure I was happy. What else can you ask for?
Although I spent a significant amount of time dealing with this problem, it could have been FAR worse if I hadn’t received excellent customer service from three separate service providers. Do you think I’ll be a repeat customer? You bet! Would I pay extra money to be guaranteed a quality experience and stress-free service? Absolutely! What are you doing to ensure your customers, clients, employees and supply chain partners feel the same way?