Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Creating the WOW! Factor in Customer Service

What makes the difference between great customer service and annoying, or simply forgettable customer service experiences?

The National Local Government Customer Service Network are passionate customer service practitioners, and recently they invited Denise Meyerson, international expert and CEO of Management Consultancy International, to speak on this hot topic.

 ‘Top organisations doing well on customer service know that it’s all about emotions, especially in social media’ Denise Meyer (pictured) advised us before going into a number of fascinating case studies to illustrate her point.

One such was the example of Tony Hsieu, founder of successful online US shoe retailer Zappos, who defined his company’s mission simply as ‘Delivering Happiness’. In his view, culture is everything, and his recruitment strategy is to select people for their … happiness. Where the internal culture of the company align – in this case where mood, motivation, values and vision align with happiness – the results have been be reflected externally with reports of exceptional (WOW!) customer service.

The lesson is that a positive corporate culture is always associated with higher performance, including customer services. Great cultures like Zappos happen by design, not by accident, and organisational culture drives everything. Values are the blueprint. These are backed up by behaviours; how people live the values everyday.

For example, Disney’s mission is to be the most admired company in the world. They focus on cast excellence and visitor satisfaction, and together these bring financial results and repeat business. Engagement with the company vision is the major strategy Disney uses to overcome fatigue and boredom on the job. Being asked 50 times a day where the toilets are shouldn’t distract staff from the person making the request right in front of them; staff are trained to focus on their body language during their interactions with customers.  

The classic story of product passion is Apple and its claim on the pronoun ‘i’. With Apple, it’s all about you – how can we make you into a smarter computer user; how can we make your life easier with apps? Making people passionate about their products Apple brings the WOW factor right into the brand.

Overwhelmingly, the Denise Meyer’s message was that great customer service reaches you at an emotional level, and leaves you with a feeling of satisfaction. Perhaps they have used your name, if only to help them focus on you as a person, but someone has listened, taken you seriously, connected with you in some human way and tried to help.

As contact centre provider that charges for our agents’ time, I wondered whether this implied that we should be spending more time on our calls at Well Done? Opinion on the floor on this question was a definite NO and I could not fault the reasoning: if you can connect and be understood, the call will actually be quicker and more positive in tone – a classic win:win.

There’s a flipside, of course. Our memories are charged with emotions, so it is perhaps not so surprising that when we have a negative customer service experience, the sting of it stays with us longer.

In the latest American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, which surveyed thousands of people across 10 countries, Australians were singled out as among the most vocal complainers in the world (only Italians and Indians complained more). We tell on average of 23 people about bad service compared with only 10 of a good service experience, and here’s the rub – they probably won’t be telling you! An earlier American Express dining survey revealed that Australians are 50% more likely to complain to everyone else than directly to the supplier.

So it would appear that Customer Service is a double-edged sword. Good company culture underpins great customer service, and the repeat business and referrals that this can bring - and bad customer service will cost you in more ways than you may ever know.

For more information about Denise Meyerson and her training programs -