When Only the Best Will Do
Is customer service back? I’ve been getting some amazing customer service lately! Really – from several retailers, from my cable company, even from the post office! Okay, not from the post office, but they did lower the price of stamps. Who saw THAT coming?
I thought, “Wow, companies have finally gotten it. They’ve raised the bar!” Then I realized I’m getting better service because I’m paying for it. I get better service from my cable company because I spend enough to qualify for their Signature Home service. As a result, I have really great service reps and techs. The difference is amazing.
I get better service when I fly because I have frequent flyer status. I spend a fortune at Staples so when I come in the manager greets me and all the employees know my name. I even pay more to get preferred parking at the airport! And I love it!
Truly, I am more than willing to spend more money with these companies to get better service. The greater the profitability of the customer, the higher the level of service companies can (and should) offer. I’m happier, they’re happier – everybody wins! Before you start saying, “Except the customers who get a lower level of service,” remember – they are paying less.
I am not saying start treating customers who don’t spend much money with you poorly. I’m saying see if there’s a way you can offer even better service to your best customers. What kinds of things am I talking about?
- Shorter wait times. I get a representative immediately when I call the cable company on my special Signature Service bat line. I board the plane sooner than nonfrequent fliers.
- Really knowing my name. They really know my name in Staples. I like it. The airlines don’t have this down yet – they are totally reading my name off the boarding pass. I don’t like this.
- Sincere apology. If Staples gets anything wrong, which quite honestly they seldom do, they fall all over themselves to make it right. The reps at the cable company are so good; they apologize if they don’t know the answer to everything. They apologize that I had a problem. They apologize that lightning knocked something out. They own it even if it isn’t theirs to own!
- Taking time for me. All these companies make it seem like they have time to help me. Even the cable tech! He spent all kinds of time running internet speed tests, downloading an app to my phone, answering all my questions. I never felt like an inconvenience.
I see nothing wrong with offering a tiered service system. If outstanding service is important to me, I can pay more for it. Or I can do a lot of business with you and get better service (frequent flyer/shopper programs). If you want Walmart prices, I’m afraid you’re going to get Walmart service.
The other thing a tiered system helps with is customer retention and loyalty. I’m not leaving Staples and I book all my air travel through Delta. This strategy isn’t necessarily for every business, but it’s an interesting concept to consider.
These are the same things you should give to those important people in your personal life. They want you to be responsive, to really know them, to sincerely apologize if you do something wrong, and to take time for them. These are simple things but hard to do – most require your time and attention.
Or you could just buy them some stamps.