Businesses thrive when they have customers who turn into champions, and those champions become raving fans. But you can’t have a raving fan without first having great customer service. Here are three essential elements to a great customer experience:
1. It’s accurate: you get what you pay for. If you’re placing an order, the order is accurate. If you buy a product, the product is defect free. If you’re staying in a hotel room, the room is clean, and you have everything you need.
2. It’s timely: you get it when you expect it. Your call is answered immediately. Your package arrives on or before its estimated arrival date. You move through the drive thru quickly. The website is finished on time.
Recently, I was traveling and had a moment of weakness—I wanted a Steak ‘n Shake milkshake. So I pulled up to their drive thru and was greeted by an employee that sounded anything but eager to see me. She said, “Just to let you know, it will be 10-15 minutes before I can take your order and another 45 minutes before we can have you order ready.” Forty-five minutes? For a milkshake?! It was insanity and the complete opposite of a good customer service experience.
3. It’s done with care: you feel good after the interaction. The person answering your call, the individual taking your order, or the team member delivering the service enjoys what they are doing and treats you like they care about you.
Imagine this scenario. I walk into a fast food establishment. I am standing in line, and I hear someone behind the counter yell “NEXT!” I look up and realize they are calling me, so I walk up to take my order. But when I reach the counter, they are looking down because they are finishing the previous transaction. Finally, they look up at me. We have never met before, but in this moment, I realize that this person hates me. I am an inconvenience to their day and what they are trying to accomplish. “What do you want?” they ask. (Side note: This is OK if you’re at the Varsity in Atlanta where it’s tradition for the people behind the counter to yell “What d’ya have?” at customers. But pretty much everywhere else, it’s not OK.) I tell them my order. They recite it back to me perfectly and say, “Alright, that will be $5.85.” I hand them my money. They give me my change, hand me my order, and before I can even take a step away from the counter, yell “NEXT”, so the next person in line will step up.
What’s fascinating about this scenario is that the first two components of a positive customer experience are met. The order is accurate, and I get it in a timely fashion. But I wouldn’t view this interaction as a positive customer service experience. It’s not enough.
The same is true if someone treats me with care but never gets my order right or takes forever to complete it. Just being nice isn’t enough.
For a customer to feel genuinely served during an interaction, all three pieces must be present: it must be accurate, timely, and delivered with care.
What’s interesting is that companies that have great customer service also tend to be the most profitable.
Consider Marriott’s success. They are known for putting people first from top to bottom, and it shows in the way their employees care for hotel guests. This is why I regularly stay at Marriott hotels when I travel.
Sometimes, it can feel like Amazon is taking over the world of internet retail, and it’s for good reason. Amazon continues to rank at the top of ForSee’s Experience Index for retail insights. They know their customers, and year after year, work to improve their customer’s online shopping experience.
Chick-fil-A’s dedication to second mile service raised the bar for customer service across all industries, not to mention the fact that they make more per restaurant than any other fast food establishment in the country.
So if you’re looking to grow your company, start by improving your customer service.
This week, work at these three principles to improve your organization’s customer service. Also consider how these strategies could help you care for all of the people in your life. When you work with excellence, value people’s time, and treat others with care, you create raving fans.
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