When you take an average customer service training workshop you spend much of the time in the session looking for ways to practice exceptional service.You look for different ways to attempt to separate your company for the competition and how to shine when you make a mistake with the customer. And to the degree of how well you deliver the service – it may be perceived as exceptional.
But delivering exceptional customer service may be a losing effort. Exceptional service is what I call the necessary evil – we have to do it, if we don’t our competition will. But there are three issues with exceptional service.
First, let me paint a picture. If I own an auto repair station, and you own an auto repair shop, and you’re my competition, and you hear after doing business with me I’m washing the cars of my customers. Can you start washing the cars of your customers? Sure you can. If I hear you’re filling the gas tanks of your customers, can I start filling gas tanks? Of course I can. That’s a big problem with exceptional service; it can be duplicated.
Duplicating our competition is easier than ever, all I have to do is go to your website and look at the services you provide. If I see something you’re doing that I’m not, all I have to do is copy you. All you have to do is come to my auto shop and look around, maybe have a car serviced there and you will know what types of services I’m providing. Then you can decide if you want to duplicate them.
Here’s another problem with exceptional service. If I’m filling the gas tanks for my customers or if I’m washing the cars before I return them to my customers, can that be expensive? That’s a big problem with exceptional service – it can be expensive. Companies that focus their energy on providing exceptional service to their customers run the risk of violating the ‘slight edge’ of economics. Especially small businesses in tough economic times, you have to be careful about where your money is goes. Providing exceptional service can be expensive.
Another evil to exceptional service is this. Let’s say, after getting my car fixed, I say to you, “Hey, I just got my car fixed at that dealership and when they were done, they washed my car for me. Pretty cool, right?” You may say, “Well, they should wash it, with the high prices they charge.”
You see, exceptional service suffers from a problem of perception. What I perceive as exceptional, you may not have the same view. Just because we proclaim to be practicing exceptional service doesn’t mean our customers will perceive it as exceptional.
We have to practice exceptional service, if we don’t, our competition will. But this necessary evil can be easily duplicated, can be expensive and a large percentage of our customers may not perceive what we practice as exceptional.