Moving from excellent to exceptional: Setting the bar higher for customer service
Growing your business involves both attracting new customers as well as retaining existing customers. Building a loyal customer base that returns again and again to your business is possible when you make your business stand out for its products or services as well as for the customer service that you provide. Understanding exactly what exceptional customer service should look like can help you to implement a strategy to adopt excellent practices when dealing with customers.
What is customer service?
When a person comes into your business or your store, he or she has certain expectations of the experience they will have. Understanding what your customers expect and then exceeding those expectations can lead to repeat business as well as new customers through word-of-mouth. Some businesses have enjoyed viral marketing events when stories of their customers' service experiences have been shared via social media.
Listen to Your Customers and Make Changes
Sainsbury's, a grocery store chain in the UK, received a letter from a 3-year-old girl who questioned why a bread the store sold was called tiger bread rather than giraffe bread. The girl thought the bread's crust looked more similar to a giraffe's spots than to a tiger's stripes. The 27-year-old manager responded with a letter acknowledging that the bread did look more like a giraffe and enclosed a gift card for the girl to spend. Her mother shared the girl's letter and the manager's, causing them to go viral. An online campaign asking Sainsbury's to grant the girl's wish and rename the bread was started, and Sainsbury's responded by both changing the bread's name and placing signs in its stores crediting the girl with the idea.
In addition to listening to customers who bring things to your company's attention on their own, be willing to ask your customers what they would like to see. Customers may tell you some surprising things that can help you to form your customer service strategy.
Implement Policies That Encourage Good Customer Service
Nordstrom's customer service is legendary. The company has emphasized the importance of going above and beyond since it was first established. The department store does things like have its sales associates ring up customers on the sales floor so that they don't have to wait in line, and have associates walk a customer's bags around the desk instead of handing them across. One of the most famous stories about Nordstrom's legendary service involves a man who brought tires to one of its stores in Anchorage, Alaska. The man was trying to return the tires to a business that had occupied the same space before Nordstrom had moved into it. While the store does not sell tires, the manager allowed the man to return them there anyway so that he wouldn't have to find a place to take them.
Being willing to go above and beyond the expectations of customers can help your business to grow. By implementing policies and listening to your customers, your customer service can greatly improve, and even begin to enter the realm of exceptional.