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June 16, 2009

News & Opinion: Blown Away By Service

By: Dylan Schleicher @ 8:13 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Yesterday at lunch, I watched the owner of one of my favorite lunch places get into an argument with a customer. Neither were in the right considering what was all said (and physically done), but it was yet another clear lesson in emotional, knee-jerk reacting getting in the way of good service. We all see and experience these kinds of situations all the time.  When things are bad, wow, do we remember them, but when things are good, it's not so memorable -- it's expected.
So how can a company continually blow its customers away, in a good way?  It's not easy.  Consider that for as many bad experiences we've had as customers, chances are if we were on the company side, we might have treated us the same way.
Chip Bell and John Patterson wrote a great book called Take Their Breath Away: How Imaginative Service Creates Devoted Customers.  In it, they talk about real examples of companies going beyond high priced value-added situations and creating what the author's call "value-unique" experiences.  They also talk about the ideas from the book in this recent ABC news video.
In essence, every employee is going to have an off day, but if these kinds of ideas are implemented, the dedicated, brand fanatics that will emerge won't be deterred by occasional stumbles - they'll have countless positive experiences to keep them happy and coming back. The brand will become synonymous with the good experiences they've had there.
My lunch experience showed me an example of human nature, but books like Bell and Patterson's show all of us the power and importance of understanding and engaging in the incredible act of customer service.

About Dylan Schleicher


Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.