Beyond Customer Service

“The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but legendary”. -Sam Walton

Everyone knows the success story of the company that believes and displays this. Companies that understand that business success does not just come from good service and support to customers are more successful than others. Companies across all industries including some ‘market giants’ are taking the understanding that going beyond customer service is key. They know that a customer’s success will lead to unprecedented success for their own company. It is about going beyond customer service that seems typical and seamlessly folding in to their company’s culture, values and processes a focus that is aimed at delighting their customers always.

Providing sufficient customer service is no longer enough. Walking miles beyond what customer’s expect is what will make your company and its customer service stand tall and over what others are providing. Going beyond customer service involves thinking of one’s own experiences as a customer and recalling what impressed you and what led to frustration in different situations. Thinking like a customer is the first step of going beyond customer service since it provides a deeper understanding in what your company can do to indeed delight your customers. Collect data from various sources, including how competition treats its customers, and better some of the great things being done. Adapt your business processes, values, culture and the essence of customer service according to these observations.

Going beyond customer service is especially vital when there has been a complaint or the customer has not been particularly pleased while buying. With the kind of choices and information that customers have access to, it is rather easy for them to make their own decisions, within minutes, about what they want and from whom they want it. They are unwilling to settle for less and refuse to take companies at their word – customer loyalty is becoming an even scarcer commodity than before as customers will switch at the slightest hint of a better deal elsewhere.

Added to this digital revolution is the fact that there is a sudden surge in new ideas and new age entrepreneurs. Young gusty people with current knowledge and risk taking ability are disrupting the ‘normal trends’ and bringing with them smart applications for even mobile and smart device and making the scenario even more cut-throat. If something new hits the market today, a few days later there will be someone who comes with an even ‘smarter and better version’ of it. This is an unrelenting and ongoing phenomenon and the pace is putting everyone in a tizzy. Keeping customers ‘hooked’ requires going beyond customer service and even just extraordinary!

Despite all these options, one thing has not changed. Customers always want to feel special and important and companies must be able to display this each time for customers to even consider them. The companies may have the most reputed brand, a great leadership and host of ‘attractive’ attributes but if they have not considered knowing how to make customers ‘feel right’ they will not succeed. Companies must focus on what they can do, what their offerings should be and any more such details that will lead to their customer’s success. If everything a company does is beneficial to the customer, they will surely gain customers and in the long run their loyalty. This is most certainly beyond customer service.

The ideas your company puts forward, the hype that it creates to promote it – every aspect must have the common idea of evoking positive and successful experiences for the customer. The ideas must incorporate the use of technology and social media as well and create unbelievable opportunities to empower customers and make them successful. This would involve making every person in the company understand these standards.

– Making these aspects part of the culture and values of the company will ensure that everyone understands that a customer’s success is foremost. Having a set of standards published as part of core values will solidify this in the minds of each employee. These standards must be displayed in places where the customer can see them too – the company website, in email communication, social media landing pages. It becomes transparent and customers understand that they can expect the best and the company will go beyond customer service to deliver the best. The more value customers can attach to the products in terms of their own success, the better the chances are for the company to be successful and have a loyal customer base. It is all about eliciting ‘wow’ from the customer through each interaction and experience.

– Keeping customer needs at the core will steadily make customer success a ‘way of life’ and required behavior for each employee. Everyone will strive to put customer success before anything else. A customer’s problems will be the company’s problem and will treat them exactly the way you would want to be treated if you had a problem. Customer service agents especially must never use words like ‘there is nothing I can do’ or ‘this is not the company’s problem’- these are counter-productive and leave customers extremely irate. Each employee must be empowered to make spot decisions to help the customer which is a clear reflection of the company’s service culture. Constantly living by the values and culture will help employees serve customers when they need and make them as successful as possible. Going beyond customer service is the new golden rule.

– The company leadership must display this attribute of going beyond customer service. What leaders do is often emulated and evaluated by everyone in the company irrespective of the size of the company. Leaders who will understand the importance of going beyond customer service and incorporate the same in their everyday dealings will have a better chance at driving the message of customer success to all. It normally begins by the leaders treating everyone in the company with respect and constantly displaying the culture and value the company seeks to known by. For example there is a company where one of the values is to smile and acknowledge anyone crossing your path, whether you know them or not. Many employees did not follow this since they had witnessed the President of the company ignore them and others and also walk around with a frown on his face. There was no leading by example. Such employees would be the ones to portray this negativity outside the office too, customers included. Serving customers both internal and external is a shared ownership between each staff member and begins with the top leadership. It will make customers not just do business but also become strong advocates of your company and its brand. Companies must invest in leaders who are strong and willing to constantly display the values and culture the company wants to permeate.

– Never underestimate the power of customer and other data. Once your company has found what customers desire and implemented it, they must also constantly monitor if their efforts are achieving the goals they have set out. Data analysis mechanisms available now is making it easier for companies to monitor customer behavior and reactions and also know what customers are interested in and what they would need to be successful. Using data to their advantage becomes almost a science as it is based on observation and careful thought. Going beyond customer service and wowing customers then becomes an art – which companies will slowly master. Using data for customer service goes beyond providing support to customers it is about having a grip on what will work and what will not and thereby ensure the customer’s success.

Going above and beyond customer service is all about making customers feel special, being instrumental in their success and helping them even when it may not make complete sense for the company. Putting customers first is the key to success and a fat bottom-line for any company. Excellence in customer service is more than just doing things for the customer it involves actively listening to the customer’s feelings and then going beyond customer service to indulge ‘those feelings’.

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