Customer Service Tips – How To Be Remarkable

In 2002, marketing guru, Seth Godin turned the business world upside down by asking one simple question: What do Starbucks and JetBlue and Apple and Dutch Boy and Hard Candy achieve such spectacular growth, leaving tried-and-true competitors in their dust?

Godin discovered that these companies weren’t nearly as focused on things like promotion and publicity as the companies they were tromping. They weren’t trying to compete on low prices and special sales. He found these companies were spending much more time thinking about how to make their products, services, and customer experience remarkable and much less time looking at financial spread sheets.

Think about the word, “remarkable.” It means that an experience is memorable enough to make the subject want to remark about it – it has to be remark-able. If you want to get customers to make remarks about your company – online or offline – you must provide a  remarkable customer experience.

In his book, Stop Marketing. Be Remarkable! Mike Montano talks about “The ABC’s of Being Remarkable.” Here’s a refresher:

A – Always give them what they need FIRST
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What are they expecting of you? What exactly is it that they called you for? Take care of these things first before you start showering them praise and gifts.

B – Blow them away with an extraordinary experience
You can’t just be ordinary any more. You have to be extraordinary in order to be remark-able! Who’s going to go online and tell everyone what an average experience they had with your company? No one. Below we’ll give some examples, ways to provide an extraordinary experience.

C – Create value from start to finish
It’s extremely important these days for customers to feel like they got their money’s worth and then some. Search for service companies on any review site. You’ll see that a large percentage of negative reviews are written by folks who feel like they’ve been “ripped off.”

Here are some tips to get you thinking about what it takes to provide a remarkable experience:

  • Become an Expert In Complaints and Compliments – Don’t just read your own feedback. Go to review sites and see what people are saying – good and bad – about companies like yours. Check in other markets. Let happy customers of other companies tell you what was so special in their experience that made them want to write a review or refer a friend. This is one of the best ways to find new ideas. In short someone at your company needs to become an expert in what being remarkable means for companies like yours.
  • Set The Standard – As Seth Godin says, “Being very good is not enough.” Your company should be setting the standard for customer service excellence in your market.
  • Be a Purveyor Of Positive Experiences – Try to think of your company as more than just a lawn care company or bakery or car wash. Try to think of your company as a purveyor of positive experiences that just happens to be baking cakes or caring for lawns or washing cars. Make sure every employee knows this!
  • Motivate Employees To Be Remarkable – It’s been shown that employees crave recognition more than promotions and raises. Implement an awards/rewards system that really makes it worthwhile to be awesome and get awesome reviews. ReviewBuzz offers a comprehensive employee review/survey tracking and rewards system.
  • Always Be Improving Employees – In today’s game, your remarkable employees are your most valuable asset. You should be constantly working to improve their customer service skills.
  • Make Improvement Your Mission – Being remarkable isn’t something you achieve and then coast. It’s an ongoing, constantly evolving experience. Don’t make perfection your mission, make constant improvement your mission.
  • Promote the Superstar Attitude – If you want to be in first place and win the World Series in your market, you have to instill in your team the super star attitude. People understand sports and teamwork. Use those analogies to psych your team up to be Number 1. Customer service guru, Seth Godin says in his blog, “Extremism in the pursuit of remark-ability is no sin. In fact, it’s practically a requirement. People in first place, those considered the best in the world, these are the folks that get what they want. Rock stars have groupies because they’re stars, not because they’re good looking.”
  • Ask Your Customers How You’re Doing – The three S’s of customer service: Surveys, surveys, surveys. Always be seeking feedback from your customers. Make it easy and convenient for them to provide it. Customer feedback is like gold. ReviewBuzz offers a simple and yet powerful customer survey system.
  • Be Prepared To Handle Problems – Expect that there will be problems. Train all of your staff to deal with them. Customers who have had a problem expertly resolved can be your best promoters.
  • Go the Extra Mile – Go to any big box stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s these days and their employees won’t just tell you, “Isle Five.” They will walk you to the right place, pull down the product and put it in your hand if they can. Find ways to go the extra mile.
  • Answer the Phone! – Consumers who connected with a live person instead of an automated system on first contact are twice as likely to do business with a company than those who got an answering system. If at all possible have human beings answer your phones.
  • Make It Memorable – In today’s world of fast-paced media and lifestyles where everyone is bombarded with far more than they can absorb, anything that is not memorable gets ignored. Try to make the experience memorable in some way.
  • Problems are Opportunities – Always think of problems as opportunities for improvement. You can’t fix it if you don’t know it’s broken.
  • Treat Customers Like Individuals – Every customers is different. For instance, some want to talk, while others want you just get the job done and get out. Train your service team to recognize that everyone is different and act accordingly for each customer.
  • Pay Attention! – There are a lot of distractions in today’s world. Train your service team to pay attention to the customer when he or she is talking and put everything else on a back burner. Personal attention goes a long way.
  • Get Good At Apologizing – Train your service team in best practices for apologizing for botched service. Even just a well handled apology can turn an angry customer into a happy customer.
  • Sweat the Small Stuff – There’s a saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” But it’s the details that make all the difference in the world. Find the scratches and dings in your customer service process and smooth them out!
  • Be Extra Friendly But Not Fake – There’s a fine line between being extra friendly and being fake. The best thing you can do is hire friendly people in the first place. Second best is training.
  • Be Super Courteous – People expect common courtesy as a baseline for satisfaction. Try to be extra courteous. Have your employees try to think of new ways to be courteous. Sounds funny, but it gets them thinking.
  • Follow Up – If customers have an issue, follow up and make sure that all loose ends are tied up and that the customer is satisfied. You never know unless you ask.
  • Be Flexible – Rules, regulations, and systems can sometimes get in the way of remarkable customer service. Allow some flexibility to accommodate unforeseen circumstances.
  • Know and Use Your Customer’s Name – You may have heard that the sweetest sound to people is their own name. Start formal, and work towards informal. “Hello, Mr. Smith. My name is, Jeff.” If they want to be informal they will tell you to call them by their first name. Make note of it and be sure everyone on your team who has access to their customer’s record uses their preferred name. Maybe he likes “Bob” instead of “Robert.” Or “Kat” instead of “Kathrine.” Learn it. Use it. Make note of it on your customer’s record.
  • Make It Quick! – Don’t make you customers wait around or sit on hold if at all possible. Reorganize your workflow if you need to for lightning fast response.
  • Never Argue With Customers – Customers that want to argue are the ones that are most likely to trash you online! Never get into fights over who is right and who is wrong. Think of the person as a newspaper reporter who can do your reputation a lot of harm if they want to.
  • Treat Great Customers Well – Do something extra for your best customers. For instance Zappos upgrades the shipping for good customers for no extra cost.
  • Find Answers – Train your employees to politely admit when they don’t know an answer to a customer’s question, and then take the initiative to find the answer. Zappos phone reps will actually help shoppers find out-of-stock items on other websites!
  • Google ‘Em – This may sound a little extreme but remark-ability sometimes requires going to extremes. Once you’ve got a customer’s name and city, Google them. Perhaps you can find out something about them that will help you make their experience memorable. Just make sure you have the right person.
  • Relax! – Yes, be apologetic, but also be confident and reassuring, and not flustered. Customers feel more at ease when the person dealing with their issue shows they have confidence that it will be resolved.
  • Smile! – It’s easy to get caught up in and focused on the job. Constantly remind your service team to smile. Even on the phone! Smiling noticeably changes the characteristics of our speech and voice.
  • Communication Is Key – Some services take time to complete. Sometimes several days or weeks. Keep in touch with your customer along the way. Keep them apprised of the progress of any issues you encounter. Put yourself in their position and imagine what they might be wondering about and call and tell them about it. Have a system in place to remind CRS to touch base with your customers.
  • Under-Promise, Over-Deliver – Don’ make promises you can’t keep! Manage customer expectations by under-promising so you can over-deliver.
  • Send a “Thank You” Card – May sound like a small thing, but sometimes the little things make a big difference. Add another little surprise in the card like a coupon or gift certificate for something fun that will make them feel good when they use it.
  • Customer Service Is Everyone’s Job! – Stamp out the “that’s not my job” mentality at your company. When a customer has a need, and anyone on your team knows this, they need to take action immediately. Customers come first!
  • Treat Customers Like VIPs – This means offering them privileges, not being their butler. Find ways to make being a customer in itself valuable. For example, get a group membership to a museum or attraction and give customers access to it.
  • Co-Marketing Is Gold – Make deals with other companies that would like access to your customers. Sometimes all it costs you is a couple hours of someone’s time to work out a deal. For example, call your local movie theater or popular restaurant and offer to promote their establishment to your customers if they provide an extra valuable coupon that you can give to your customers for extra value and appreciation. Never make it sound like a bribe to write a review.
  • Give Them More Power – Right up front, give customers a card with a customer service hotline and email address that they can use if they have any concerns whatsoever. And give that phone number and email address high priority. This says right off the bat that their happiness is your number one concern.
  • Guarantee It – Let customers know very clearly if the product or service that you are providing comes with any warranty or guarantee and explain how to use it. Also let them know if they have any questions about their warranty to just call and ask.
  • Hire Good People – Now that you know being remarkable is the new marketing, you need to be on the lookout for the very best employees. When it comes to customers service strengths such as communication, courtesy, friendliness, etc. go a long way. Find these people and do what it takes to keep them! This is the absolute best advice I can give you.
  • Empower Employees – Give employees some power to find ways to be remarkable based on their interaction with the customer, and to resolve issues without having to speak to a manager. Zappos is a great example of this.
  • Gestures, Not Stunts – Yes, you want to make your experience memorable, but focus on gestures of appreciation and respect and not stunts. Don’t send a singing telegram over to a customers job to say thank you. Find a way that really gives them some value.
  • Qualify Customers NPS Potential – Intelligence on your customer is extremely valuable. Get as much information as you can about their internet habits. For example, if they called from Yelp or other sites where users tend to be critical, make sure you give them extra attention.
  • Keep Good Records – Make sure your front line has the ability to add notes about their interaction with your customers and require them to “de-brief” after every job. Don’t just make notes about the job, though. Makes notes about what the person does for a living or for a hobby, their family situation, etc. This gives you ways to make your customers feel like a VIP. For instance, if a really valuable customer returns for more and your CSR notices in the notes that she’s a runner, send her a subscription to Runner magazine as a token of your appreciation. Or if you know a customer has three kids, give them 3 theme park tickets and say, “Here. These are for your kids.” It shows them that you think of them as people with lives and not just a customer.
  • It’s Not Your Solution, It’s Theirs – When solving problems for customers, don’t just assume that your solution is acceptable to them. Work it out together. If you come up with a solution, run it by them, ask them how they feel about it. Just sending someone a coupon for future services isn’t enough.
  • Involve Employees – Invite your employees to come up with some ideas for improving the customer experience and being remarkable. Support the good ideas with gusto! When employees know that their companies are supportive of their ideas they are much more motivated to think hard about what it means to be remarkable.
  • Keep Trainees Quiet – Don’t let untrained employees take the lead with your customers. Always make sure your team members are well trained and have spent time observing your customer service team in action. If a trainee must help a customer have them make the customer aware that they are in training and will find someone who can help them.
  • Keep Inventing New Ways To Be Remarkable! – Being remarkable isn’t a formula that you put in place and follow to the letter. It’s both an art and a science. It’s an ongoing process. Make it mandatory that your team continues to look for new ways to be remarkable. And keep monitoring review sites for ways other companies are being remarkable!