Join Jeff Toister for an in-depth discussion in this video Going the extra mile, part of Customer Service Foundations.
Providing outstanding customer service is often referred to as going the extra-mile. Because it's service that's above and beyond what's expected. Some people think all that's required is a little extra effort, but there's more to it than that. To go the extra-mile, we must adopt the extra-mile mindset to identify opportunities. Know what to do in those moments, and make sure our customers recognize our efforts. That last part is the most important. It's our customer who ultimately decides whether or not we went the extra-mile.
The first step towards delivering extra-mile service is adopting the extra-mile mind-set. This is when you proactively look for chances to exceed someone's expectations. Having an extra-mile mind-set can sometimes be difficult. There are obstacles that get in the way, your daily work might become routine and you could find yourself just going through the motions. During busy times you might feel pressure to cut corners and serve customers faster to get more done. Sometimes customers themselves are rude and it's a natural instinct to want to provide them with less service and not more.
One exercise that can help you overcome these obstacles. And adopt the extra-mile mind-set is called make someone's day. Every day look for just one opportunity to go above and beyond to make a lasting impression on a customer. Here's an example, I was once eating in an airport restaurant waiting for a flight. After finishing my meal I left the restaurant, went to find my departure gate. Suddenly I see my server running after me. I'd left my iPad on the table. And she had tracked me down in the airport to make sure I didn't lose it.
That definitely made my day. Having the extra-mile mind-set will help you spot extra mile opportunities. But you still need to know what to do when you see them. This next exercise can help you plan ahead for those moments when you spot a chance to really wow a customer. You may want to download the worksheet for this one. Or just take notes on a piece of paper. Start by listing some of your customers basic expectations. To help you get started, I'll share some expectations that nearly every customer has. Customers expect service that's fast, friendly and knowledgeable.
Think about other expectations that are specific to your customers. And add them to your list. Next, look at each expectation and think about ways that you can go beyond what's expected. Let's look at our list again. How can we exceed the expectation for fast service? One way is to make customers feel like our service is even faster by keeping them engaged. That's why many waiting rooms have magazines, television, free coffee and even free WiFi. It's all there to keep us entertained while we wait.
You can do the same thing with your customers by engaging them in a little conversation while they wait. How can we exceed the expectation for friendly service? One way is to make our service even more personable. This includes calling customers by name and learning their specific preferences. How can we exceed the expectation for knowledgeable service? A good way to do this is to educate your customers. For example, my local butcher hands out a sheet of grilling tips with each cut of meat he sells to help customers grill their steaks to perfection. Going the extra-mile means their customers recognize the extra effort.
Sometimes it helps to tactfully call your customer's attention to the extra service you're providing them. Here are some examples. A mechanic might say, we went ahead and washed your car for you. A retail associate might say, I know you don't have the coupon, but I gave you the extra discount anyway. A banker might say, can I offer you a cup of coffee while you wait? These may have all been services that would have been provided anyway. But you can make your customers feel good by pointing out that you did something special for them. Okay, we've covered a lot so let's recap.
Extra-mile service is service that goes beyond your customer's expectations. The extra-mile mind-set involves proactively looking for opportunities to surprise and delight customers. Sometimes it helps to tactfully point out when we go the extra mile so customers feel special. We don't get a chance to go the extra-mile with every customer, but when it does happen, it can be a lot of fun to use these techniques to really make someone's day.
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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.