• 08:27:04 pm on May 28, 2008 | 3
    Tags: , , , ,

    I am going to give you the secret to Customer Service. This is the one thing that you have to do if you want to use Customer Service as a competitive advantage. You will be shocked when you hear what it is, I promise you. It is not a specific application, or a channel you must support, or a certain function you must provide. Neither is selecting the proper people, training them right and empowering them. And, of course, it is not about collecting and leveraging feedback. Yes, these are all things I have written and spoken on in the past… and they are critical for Customer Service success. Alas, they are not THE critical success factor.

    You probably heard of Zappos’ customer service, right? It has been making the blogosphere rounds lately with things like “pay your employees to quit”, “empower your agents”, and “deliver exceptional customer service across all interactions”. Their approach to Customer Service is legendary and they do a tremendous job of implementing all best practices they can get their hands on. However, if you were to do the same and implement all best practices known to humankind, you probably won’t be seen the same way. This is because you would be seen as a copycat, not an original, and not given the same credit for what you do. Why? Because you did not use Customer Service Excellence as a differentiator, rather as another way to get and retain customers. And that is the critical differentiation (no pun intended).

    To become a master at Customer Service, to truly excel at it you have to find your differentiating factor. The one thing that will set you apart from every one else. That’s it. There is no preaching about how you must do a multi-channel implementation, or whether you cannot last longer than a week without collecting feedback. If you look at what you do, learn your strengths and work on your weaknesses — and constantly strive to maintain that differentiating factor you are guaranteed to succeed.

    Are you differentiated? Tell me what you are doing differently and how it has proven successful for you…

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Comments

  • Haim Toeg 2:39 am on May 29, 2008 | # | Reply

    Esteban,

    As always, a well-written and thought provoking post. I think there is one additional step back we should take. A maniacal focus on service like Zappos’ is only sustainable if the entire corporation is service excellence focused. In other words, service excellence has to be exercised in all aspects of the company’s existence, internal and external. As an example, if IT treats tickets from front-line employees with the lowest priority then their image of their own position of the organization will deteriorate regardless of the number of strategic initiatives announced by the CEO. So, to achieve service excellence a company must entrench and reinforce the culture repeatedly and methodically.

  • Marc 2:56 pm on May 29, 2008 | # | Reply

    Good article.

    I agree with your thought on a differentiating point of view. It is like traditional brand positioning but with an extra focus on Customer Service and how to build a great reputation. It is always important to value customer service and Companies that can do this will do well in a recession as all things being equal, great customer service can be a big factor in buying decisions.

  • Esteban Kolsky 6:42 am on June 3, 2008 | # | Reply

    Haim,

    Thanks so much for continue to read the blog. And for bringing interesting points to light.

    I couldn’t agree with you more… when i was doing presentation on EFM, I always mentioned as the #1 best practice to change the culture towards a feedback culture — learn what to do with it, how to use it, and how to make yourself great through feedback. I wish more people were listening…

    Marc,

    Thanks for reading… and thanks for the comment. Interesting, my brother is a brand guy and we never agreed on much… maybe this is the first time. He does really good work, which baffles me… check him out if you are interested, his website is a quasi-blog thing that is really cool (http://www.brandfields.com)


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