Customer Centricity: Begin With Customer Service

One of the basic tenets of Customer Centricity is service. Why? Service is taking action to take care of someone else. More importantly, it is taking action to create value for someone else (Ron Kaufman). It is how one adds value to others and in the process, gains more of himself. In most cases (though not on purpose), people feel good about providing others a service, as doing so naturally entails a positive feeling within themselves. In essence, service is a spirit of altruism. It is not just a procedure to follow, but a mindset of purposeful engagement and proactive communication that leads to a productive behaviour.

Let us define Customer Service.

Wikipedia defines Customer Service as the act of taking care of the customers’ needs by providing and delivering professional, helpful, high quality service, and assistance before, during, and after his/her requirements are met. One of my favorite Customer Service (CX) gurus, Michael Falcon, defines it as “an action within an entire customer experience; and to achieve an excellent experience, every touchpoint from beginning to end must be exceptional.” Take note that this definition of Customer Service gives rise to its particular ingredient, “touchpoint,” which means, every point of contact with a customer (face to face, phone calls, emails, ticket logs, etc).

On the other hand, Turban (2002), defines Customer Service as “a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction — that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer’s expectation.”

Apparently in these concepts given by the experts, common factors in Customer Service surface: action/delivery, care, and meeting customers’ needs. In addition, there is frequent usage of superlatives such as exceptional, excellent, highest quality, and the like.

In a nutshell, Customer Service is any action on all customer touchpoints, where we deliver our knowledge and abilities to customers to meet their needs and expectation in an excellent way. It is a cornerstone to a customer experience (CX) strategy. It is a balance of commendable acts between delivering service (which includes best practices and agent experience) and satisfying customers at a cost. It is about how an organization delivers its products or services in the most humanly satisfying manner, as pleasurable as possible.

What kind of service is needed then? Answer: we need superior service be delivered at any touchpoint, for “Good is no longer good enough.” To quote Ron Kaufman once more, “What was good enough for yesterday, isn’t good enough for today. What’s good enough for today, won’t be good enough for tomorrow.” This is so because of the fast-changing business world. It is very important to keep climbing the ladder of service level to keep up with the competitive environment. Being close to your customers and really anticipating their needs as even their wants and needs also change quickly. “The business world is always unpredictable,” as they say it. This gives us more reason to get even closer and know our customers even better.

With standards ever rising, how then do we give great or superior service? As mentioned, there should surely be a balance of sterling performances between the product (technical or otherwise) and experience (relationship aspect of our customer interactions). On top of this, we must make our customers a priority. One critical component of Customer Centricity is a customer-focused mindset (or for some people, “customer-first mindset”). Focus on them as people and not an issue to create a satisfying human experience. Superior/excellent customer service may not only result to Customer Satisfaction alone but more so, Customer Loyalty — the ultimate reward of Customer Centricity. Without a question, top-notch service creates loyalty and a returning customer, which is all our aim in business.

According to Mohandas Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” This dictum is the foundation of any customer service definition and execution. We define service as any action taken to take care of someone. Hence, customer service should be executed in a way that takes care of our customers- whether internal or external. The truth is everyone in your business environment is your customer (they are your internal customers) and your external customers are the people who pay the bills that becomes a revenue of your business or company.

10 Best Customer Service Companies You Should Learn From

Ask any ‘Pretty Woman’ fan and they’ll gleefully recount that unforgettable scene when Julia Roberts hits Rodeo Drive for a shopping spree. Remember the revenge-bliss scene in the 1990s romantic fantasy?

So it happens that Vivian visits a fancy boutique to buy herself a nice dress where she is spurned by the snooty salespeople. Later, she buys a slew of obscenely expensive outfits and then returns – dressed to the nines and carrying handfuls of shopping bags – to the one boutique that had shunned her.

“You work on commission, right?” she asks a la-di-da saleswoman.

“Uh, yes.”

“Big mistake. Big. HUGE!”

“I have to go shopping now,” she says, turning on her heels to leave (as we give a collective contented sigh at the appalled look at the salesperson’s face. She had it coming!).

Moral of the story? It doesn’t matter how deep your customer’s pockets are, it only matters how well you treat them. Imagine how different the movie would be if it was made now. What are the chances of Vivian tweeting out her anger and hurt, her tweets going viral with tons of people chipping in their own frustration, the movement gaining momentum and leading the store to a digital suicide?

In a service business, nothing is more important than having people on your team who’ll do more than represent your current culture-you must have people who push the culture you have forward, not the other way around.

More often in customer experience, you could get away with doing the bare minimum. That is mostly enough. But enough is far from memorable. It is when you go out of your way that you make people’s day!

We’ve cherry-picked 10 brands that have an unbeatable track when it comes to cultivating their customers’ happiness.

Zappos

Did you know that up to 42% of consumers expect a response with 60 minutes? Apparently, a prompt response is the norm, not exception anymore.

If there is a gold standard in customer service, it has got to be Zappos. Their support success stories are the stuff of urban legends. One such instance, they won a customer for life by overnighting a pair of shoes, free of cost, to a best man in need.

On social media, Zappos doesn’t hold back from having a little fun with emojis and GIFs, but they always adhere to their golden rule of putting their customers first. And it pays off, each time!

Delta Hotels

Mike McCready, your average Jo, was attending the #PSEWEB conference in Vancouver, when he stayed at Delta hotel. While he liked his room at the Delta, the view was rather ugly and he tweeted that with his followers. He didn’t tag the hotel, merely commenting on it, as he didn’t think anything would come out of the tweet.

He was in for a pleasant surprise when Delta responded within an hour- offering another room with a better view! And he had a dish of sweets and a handwritten card from the staff awaiting his arrival in his room. Mike was so profoundly impressed that he wrote an entire post about it, the very same day.

Amazon

If happy customers are what you have in mind, then an exuberant customer service team is what you should already have. Let your customer service team have fun. Amazon has an exciting story to tell of what can happen when companies give their teams more freedom in their client communications.