Customer Experience News & Trends

Why customer service stinks — but yours doesn’t have to


The first step toward great customer service is to look at the employees in your organization who have lots of customer contact — salespeople.

Some salespeople are service naturals. They devote full attention to each customer and offer help without being asked. They are energetic, perceptive and empathetic.

These critical qualities have little to do with a salesperson’s technical ability and a lot to do with how he or she treats prospects and customers.

Since there’s no right or wrong personality in developing a “service attitude,” every salesperson can learn how to relate to customers on a personal level.

Define by service

Service is the first thing customers and prospects notice in any salesperson. Unique service can make any salesperson different and distinguished, regardless of size, budget, location or industry.

What defines exceptional service? Who are the salespeople who make it happen?

To deliver great service, exceptional salespeople think of it as a separate and distinct product. They start thinking about service from the customer’s perspective. How were they treated? What did they expect and were their expectations met?

To remain focused on the goal of delivering truly outrageous service, they ask themselves: “How would I treat my most profitable customer?” Then they apply the answer to all of their customers and prospects.


Giving a customer “positively outrageous service” (POS) creates a halo effect for your product or service. The customer feels encouraged and wants to reciprocate.

This reciprocity may include the most powerful marketing medium, word-of-mouth, an enthusiastic, immediate, frequently repeated personal testimonial.

From satisfied to loyal

We all know that a satisfied customer is someone who has had a pleasant experience. A loyal customer is someone who has a relationship with you, values it and resists change.

Loyal customers buy more than satisfied customers. The flip side of these benefits is that loyal customers demand more service. They notice small things, such as waiting too long for service or not being acknowledged,  and  get upset.

Here are some tips to help you satisfy a loyal customer’s complaints:

1. Agree with the customer. When customers are angry, agree with them and share your concern about their problems. This is very different from being angry with the customer. If you agree with the customer, it’s almost impossible for the customer to be angry with you. Agreeing doesn’t mean that you’re accepting blame for the situation for you or your company. It simply sets a better tone for resolving the complaint.

2. Ask the customer’s input on a solution. Simply asking, “What will make you happy?” is a good way to solve a problem. This straightforward question can establish a common ground for finding a reasonable solution.

3. Take responsibility. You can solve the problem, learn something and help your customer all in one process if you take charge. Customers usually ask for less once you offer to help. Once they have a complaint resolved,  customers usually move toward the loyalty end of the scale.

Adapted from Why Service Stinks and Exactly What to Do About It by Scott Gross.


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