Customer Service: Make Your Customers Say Wow

You know you need to provide good service to have satisfied customers. But if you want to win them over for life, you have to provide exceptional customer service.

I want to tell you a story about a recent trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I travel a lot and sometimes for fun, my luggage and I have a competition to see which one of us makes it to the destination first.

We had a quick connection in Chicago where I hoped and prayed my luggage would make it on the next plane. The good thing about the Cedar Rapids airport is you don’t have to wait long for luggage. Our airplane was the only one at there. Well, guess what? No luggage. I won the race again.

My next move was to rent a car and drive to Iowa City to conduct an executive retreat for a client, my final destination. I presented myself at the Enterprise car rental counter. Now, if you are like me, you have reached a point in your life where you just expect poor service. You expect to be treated like a robot, a sub-human, or a clod of dirt. I soon found out this customer experience was going to be different.

The interaction started off as usual . . .some nameless guy asking for my credit card and drivers license. Then something unusual happened. The young man stood up, reached over the counter, and shook my hand. It wasn’t one of those dead fish kind of handshakes, but a real strong, glad to meet you handshake. I almost fell out of my shoes in shock. Wow!

In my entire life, no car rental agency person has ever shaken my hand. Most people in other car rental places could care less if I showed up or not. Well, this young man was amazing. He finished all the paperwork and asked me to sign those blank spaces on the contract; all the while I was trying to compose myself from the handshake experience. For all I know, I could have agreed to rent the car for $2000 a day. But at that point I didn’t care. I was beside myself.

Then he did it again. He stood up, walked around the counter, and shook my hand one more time. Then he said, “Mr. Smith, we appreciate your business.” I was blown away.

Here is an important fact to remember. A Gallup survey showed a customer who is “emotionally connected” to your place of business is likely to spend 46% more money than a customer who is merely “satisfied” but not emotionally bonded.

To get your customers to say “Wow,” you need to follow these four steps of exceptional service.

Select the right people. Most businesses do a poor job hiring people. They hire just anyone and then place them on the front-line with customers. This in turn runs them away to the competition. So spend more time recruiting and hiring the “right” people with good personalities.

Set performance standards. Outline specific steps on how employees are to act, speak, and respond to customer needs and requests. If you let your employees decide how to act, there is no telling what they will do.

Sustain on-going training and reinforcement. Good customer service skills do not come naturally. Successful businesses make good skills a habit. They reinforce and train their staff on a recurring basis.

Specify consequences for good behaviors. You must hold people accountable. Reward those who exceed the standards and develop those who do not.

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