Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Defining outstanding customer service, part of Customer Service Foundations (2014).
How do you define outstanding customer service? Is it being friendly? How about going the extra mile? Perhaps it involves solving problems. When I ask people to define outstanding customer service, I often get very different answers. They all sound correct, but it's hard to believe there are so many ways to describe the same thing. I'd like to give you a definition that combines them all. Understanding the true meaning of outstanding service, will help you serve your customers at the highest level. Here's my universal definition, outstanding customer service, is service that exceeds your customer's expectations.
To help explain this a bit more, its helpful to look at the differences between good, poor and outstanding service. Good service occurs when a customer's expectations are met. For example, if your customer expects you be friendly and you treat that person with respect and courtesy, then you'll have provided good service. The challenge with good service is it's not very memorable. That's because we don't tend to remember things that simply meet our expectations. Let me give you an example. If you walk into a room and turn on the lights, you probably won't give it a second thought when the lights come on.
But if you were to walk into that room, turn on the light switch, and the lights didn't come on, then you'd notice. Applying the same concept to customer service, memorable service is service that's different than we expected. This leads us to poor service, unfortunately poor service is service that's memorable in the wrong way. Poor customer service occurs when the experience falls short of the customer's expectations. You're customer expects you to be friendly, instead you're rude and impolite. Then, they'd understandably be disappointed.
So, how can we provide outstanding customer service? It's obvious that rude is bad. But, if friendly is good, but forgettable, then what would make service amazing? Remember that outstanding service is service that exceeds your customer's expectations. If your customer expects you to be friendly, you might find a way to go beyond that by making your service more personal. You could try to use their name, engage in a little light conversation, or offer a genuine and sincere compliment. This type of service would be much more memorable to a customer who simply expect you to be polite.
Now that you know the difference between good, poor and outstanding service, let's talk about how you can use this definition with your own customers. I have two suggestions, first, treat every customer like an individual. Try to understand how each person would like to be served. Customers all have different expectations, so if we give customers the same service, it might work for some people, but not for others. For example, imagine two shoppers in a large retail department store. One shopper is on her lunch break, and only has a few minutes to purchase a pair of gloves to replace a pair she left in a taxi.
The other shopper is trying to pick out some new outfits for his new job, and has plenty of time to browse. The first shopper will be happy with fast and efficient service, while the second shopper might appreciate a sales associate who can spend some time talking to him about his needs and suggesting some additional items. That leads to the second suggestion. Once you identify your customer's individual needs, look for opportunities to exceed those expectations. Going back to the department store, the sales associate might offer to cut the tags off the first customer's new gloves so she could wear them out.
The sales associate might put together a few additional outfits for the customer to consider while the customer's in the dressing room trying on his initial selections. Remember, it's your customer who ultimately decides whether you've provided good, poor or outstanding customer service. You can make that decision very easy for them if you give them more than they expect.
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- What is outstanding customer service?
- Identifying your customer
- Creating a customer service vision
- Enhancing likability in person, over the phone, and via email
- Actively listening to customers
- Going the extra mile
- Taking ownership of problems
- Diffusing angry customers
- Using data to evaluate and improve your customer service<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.