What Customer Service Really Means

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We will start a business. We will have the greatest customer service in town. We will provide abundant compliments. That will be our highlight. Compliments. Lots of 'em. We will win.

That's what we said when we started Trizzy. As a computer company, we thought we'd just plow through Dell using our customer-oriented personality. It didn't work. We've talked to a number of entrepreneurs, and they felt similarly about customer service: "It's mostly just about complimenting the customers." Then sucky business authors add this gem: "It's NOT about just mostly complimenting the customers. It's about complimenting them, GENUINELY." Blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh. Now you know why most haven't run a successful business. Folks, customer service just isn't about words, talk, making promises, compliments, blah, blah.

What customer service doesn't mean

It's not about: "You look great today! You have a fantastic business. I love your tie! Yay." Nor is it about: "Make the customer smile when you first greet them. Do it or your fired. Yay." Nor this jewel: "Let's distribute free golf lessons to customers! Yay!"

What customer service does mean

Sure, you could be best friends with your customers -- but, it's not that simple. Customers want something else. They want the basics of execution. Not just talk, but the intangibles: being on time, executing, fulfilling promises, helping decrease costs. It about the crazy-adorable quote: "Shut up, and do something!" Says Harvard's Benson Shapire and Kasturi Rangan, customers love businesses that execute: "What customers want is to have their orders handled quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively."

What kick-ass-customer-service means

Scene 431: Bob's biz just lost a big client because he was too slow. You come in, ask him what's wrong, study what went wrong, then show him how he can fix the problem. Shortly, he wins a humongous client. He loves you, then refers you to 90821047624124532 of his friends. Kick-ass-customer-service = You.

To take your customer-service up a notch, provide solutions to your beloved customers.

Forget the "seller" mindset, but adopt the "solution-provider" mindset. Unless you've viciously stalked a business client, you don't know the full story of your customer's situation. Once you listen, the client will provide you with a stream of ideas that, lucky for you, wants you to implement. It's the secret sauce that's propelled the likes of IBM, McKinsey, HP, Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs. Listen first. Then, get answers from it. So easy. (Shh...it's a secret.)

So how do I know when my customer service is kick-ass?

What makes masses of web developers buy Apple? What makes college students buy $5 coffee at Starbucks? What makes soccer moms buy gallons of milk at Costco? Why do customers return, and bring along their 25 friends? When you're running your business, you'll know how kick-ass your customer service by a pretty sweet measure:

Your referral/repeat-purchase rate.

Scenario 1: If you've finished a transaction with Bob, Sally, and Joan, and you don't hear from them again: time to improve! Scenario 2: If Jane, Billy, and Bob purchase from you, and 2 weeks later, they comes back with their friends: you're kicking ass.

Kick ass. (You know you want to.)

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Posted on August 14

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