“7 Slight Edges to Creating a Customer Service Culture”

According to a JD Power study, companies that have a culture committed to great customer service will grow at twice the rate of their competition.

April was a milestone for me, I reached my 27th year of being in the training business. I designed and presented my first workshop in April of 1988. Where were you in April of 1988? images

In that time I have worked with companies throughout the US, up and down the Americas, back and forth to Moscow, and to West Africa. What I’ve learned in dealing with these companies is that they are committed to keeping their customers and growing from the inside out. As I worked with these companies I noticed they all did certain things to help them keep their customers, they are little things that make a big difference in the level of service they provide. I called these things “slight edges” and I saw there are seven of them. 

The first “7 Slight Edges” is Big Picture Thinking. Companies that deliver great service know why they deliver great service. They understand the long term impact of great service. After a customer purchases a copier, successful dealers have their customers on a campaign, where every few months they will reach out to the customer, whether it’s a postcard, holiday cards, an email or a drop-in visit. They know that the purchase is the beginning of the relationship not the end. Unsuccessful dealer close the sale and then start looking for the next sale elsewhere. They fail to see the big picture of the value of a customer. Do you know the value of each of your customers?

Another “Slight Edge” is Courage; the courage to take action. Successful dealers take action on their ideas to deliver great service. Unsuccessful dealers don’t want to start something new. They say things like, “That’s just the way our industry is.” Or, “This is the way we’ve always done it.” True service leaders have the courage to move past the old barriers.

Faith means belief in something we have no proof of. Companies that deliver great service have faith in what they are doing is bringing the customer back. Faith is about measurements; you need to put up sign posts that show you’re on track. This could be how much and how often does an average customer buy from you. If you track these, or numbers like these and you see the numbers improve, it’s easier to keep the faith.

Companies that deliver great service make service the center of daily operations. This is Effort. Average dealers start new initiatives to deliver better customer service but, after a while, they let the ideas fall to the wayside. I hear them say things like, “We got started on it but then we got busy with a new product line.” This is the time management side of delivering great customer service. Companies that excel in delivering great service make it the top priority.

To me, Economics is very simple; it’s the skill of earning more money than you spend. It’s difficult to deliver great service if your focus is on the upcoming lease payment you’re going to have trouble making. Ask your staff to help you identify any wasteful spending and give you ideas on how to eliminate it.

Companies that deliver great customer service Ask Affirming Questions. We need to ask questions that help us to look for solutions. Here’s a tip; most affirming questions start with, “How can I…” or “What can I….” Don’t ask the upset customer, “What’s the problem?” ask “How can I help?” This ‘rephrasing’ leads to ‘reframing’ in your mind; you look at the problem in a whole new way. Also, have the courage to go out and ask your current customers affirming questions. Questions like, “How can we do this better?” or, “What other services would you like us to provide?” Few dealers will ask these questions and fewer still will take action on what customer say.

What does your product or service do to Be of Service? Harley Davidson doesn’t sell motorcycles; they sell the open road. Dealers that excel in customer service don’t sell office equipment; they sell how their equipment is of service to the customer. What problems do your products and service solve for me? Determine what your company does that is of service to the customer and change the way you communicate with them.

In the same study, JD Power reports that 90% of the public formulates their opinion of a company based on the customer service experience. Also, 60% will terminate their relationship with a company based on a bad customer service experience. Use these “7 Slight Edges” to raise the level of service you provide and generate more referrals and revenues.

Let’s follow each other on Twitter, @7slightedges

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