What makes a company successful over the long, long term? What characterizes the service relationship between companies and customers who do business together for decades, even generations?
How can your company stay Window pane replacement close to your customers even as times change, technologies change and expectations continually rise?
What can you do to improve customer service quality and ensure your company’s future offers are relevant and valuable in the market?
One powerful step forward that will improve customer service quality is to explore your customers’ future needs and interests by cultivating Service Encounters of The Third Kind. In these unique encounters, your precious and loyal relationships for the future are built by your words and actions – today. You can improve customer service quality over the long haul by thinking proactively.
Let’s start by looking closely at Service Encounters of the First and Second Kinds and how they improve customer service quality.
Service Encounters Of The First Kind
In Service Encounters of the First Kind, your company approaches the customer with the most basic of all customer service questions: “What do you want (or need)?”
Your customer replies with equal simplicity, “I want your product X, by time and date Y, at your listed price Z.”
Your company’s priority and service focus should now be clear: Get the customer’s order right, and get it right the first time to improve customer quality!
Campaigns to accomplish this objective are widespread and easy to spot. “Do It Right!”, “Zero Defects” and “Six Sigma Quality” are all examples of slogans companies use to focus their workers on getting the basics right, first time, every time to improve customer service quality.
In this kind of encounter, breakdowns in service delivery are bad news since they don’t improve customer service quality. They are to be identified, analyzed, solved and, most of all, eliminated to improve customer service quality. The service system must be streamlined and standardized in every possible way to improve customer service quality.
Companies that consistently succeed in this undertaking (delivering X by Y at Z price) earn their reputations in the market as steady and reliable suppliers. This leads, as it should, to customer satisfaction and will improve customer service quality.
Training in these organizations is focused on product knowledge, technical skills, thoroughness, accuracy and adhering to proven procedures to improve customer service quality.
Marketing consists of powerful efforts to push proven products in the market. The customer is “sold to.”
Looking into the management mindset of these first kind organizations, we usually find a keen interest in cutting costs, increasing volume and decreasing cycle-time.
This need for speed is important: Competitors are often closing in with similar products, faster delivery and even lower prices. In this kind of competitive situation, profit margins are paper-thin and companies thrive only through continual increases in volume.
So far so good. But if we look into the staff mindset of such an organization, we find a different way of thinking altogether that doesn’t help improve customer service quality. Frontline service employees, focused on getting it right the first time, trained to carefully follow all procedures, and encouraged by management to achieve more and more results in less and less time, find themselves answering the phone, opening the mail or meeting the next customer in person thinking to themselves, “I hope this customer isn’t a pain in the neck!”
After all, customers with questions and unusual requests generally take more time, lead to more errors and can result in a general slowing down of the whole system.
No wonder so many customer requests for anything out of the ordinary are met with the retort: “We don’t do it that way” or “That’s not how our procedures work here.”
Service Encounters Of The Second Kind
In Service Encounters of the Second Kind, your company approaches the customer with a question that goes beyond standard offers of X product at Y time and Z price. Instead of the basic “What do you want,” your service representatives now pose a more inviting question: “How do you want it?”
Faced with such an open-ended question, the customer naturally replies, “I want it the way I want it. I want it special. I want it my way!”
Your company’s service focus must change if you are to deliver what your customer wants just the way your customer wants it. Special products, unique combinations, odd-hour deliveries, different schedules for pricing or payment – all are new challenges for your service team to understand and accomplish to improve customer service quality.
In Service Encounters of the Second Kind, breakdowns in the service delivery system are to be expected at first – and then overcome to improve customer service quality. Responsiveness and flexibility become your prime objectives to improve customer service quality. The organization focuses on being adaptable, accommodating and open to changing requests that improve customer service quality and satisfaction.
Your service system improves, not through vigorous efforts to standardize but through your willingness and commitment to customize to improve customer service quality!
Companies that succeed in this challenging undertaking (giving their customers what they want, when and where they want it and just the way they want it) earn their reputations in the market as quick, responsive and open to ongoing change. In short, they understand how to improve customer service quality.
When a company is recognized for welcoming and fulfil-ling unique customer requests, the result is not only customer satisfaction, but a well-deserved and valuable reputation for customer delight.