Good customer service is the holy grail of good business. After all, if
your customers arenít astonished at your service ("happy" with
your service just isnít good enough any more) then they wonít be back
and they wonít recommend you to their friends.
But how do you insure that all of your customersí experiences are
astonishing? Naturally, you will stay on top of things and make sure that
you go that extra mile to please, but can you be everywhere at once? Do
you personally handle every order? If you do, your quest to astonish is
much easier, but if you have employees on the front line, they have to do
Do they know how important it is? Do they know how to do it? And, most
importantly, are they empowered to do whatever has to be done?
I recently went to a local fast-food chicken franchise and placed my
order for the 2-piece meal. The girl behind the counter told me that they
only had one piece left and were just finishing a new batch that would be
ready in 9 minutes. I told her, "Iím starving. How Ďbout if you
give me the one piece that you have, and then youíll owe me one?"
When the new batch was ready, she gave me the piece she owed me along with
an extra biscuit "because I had to wait".
The key to this story is the extra biscuit. I donít know if she was
trained specifically for this type of situation, but if she didnít have
the authority to give away a free biscuit, this customer service success
story would never have happened.
Another example: my former brother-in-law ordered a pizza for home
delivery. When it arrived it was wrong, so he called and they promised
another one right away. When it arrived it, too, was wrong. Again he
called, again they promised another right away, and when it arrived it was
correct, and there was a coupon in there for a free pizza because of the
two mix-ups. Good! Perfect! Someone had the authority to fix a bad
situation with a freebie. But when he went to the restaurant to use the
coupon, he ordered his pizza, presented the coupon, and the man taking his
order told him, "Iím sorry sir, but your coupon is good for two
toppings and you ordered three, so Iím going to have to charge you fifty
cents." POW! There goes the goodwill created by the free pizza!
Give your front-line employees the power to make customer service
decisions. It may cost a few dollars, and there may be some mistakes, but
the net result will be positive. If you are worried about it, then set
limits as to how much the employee can "give away" in terms of
products or services. Depending on your situation, you may be able to
actually give a gift that costs you nothing! For example, an Internet
vendor could give a free eBook or electronic report.
Sure itís a gamble, but ignoring this is a bigger gamble in my
opinion. Cover your bases by setting some limits, but allowing your
front-line employees (that includes you!) to make some simple concessions
in the name of customer service will pay big dividends. The customer you
please, may be your best one!