What is customer service?

Virgin (an organisation I used to work for) was always very good at taking a traditional product or service, turning it on its head and delivering it in a way that was focused on the customer, rather than the product.

I was working with a client last week that has done exactly the same thing with the service they deliver.

Traditionally the service is very much focused on what the business needs in order to deliver it rather than what the customer wants.  Conversations that run something like this are not uncommon: ‘here’s what we’re going to do for you… now what do you want?  No, don’t bother telling me because I’m just going to deliver what I want to deliver!’

(I may have made that last bit up, but you get the point.)

Now, my client, a franchise, has inverted this position, think about customer service first, listens to them and delivers a bespoke service.

The problem is it’s quite difficult to explain what this unique service is, especially to new franchisees.

I was very proud of myself when I thought through what this ‘uniqueness’ actually is.  There are four levels of service that have to be taken into consideration:

1: Ethos

Franchisees have to want to deliver a top class customer service; to be a business ‘friend’ as well as a provider.  Without this fundamental desire, the level of service expected will fall short of where it should be and this is not good… nothing will be turned on its head, let alone the whole way this service is delivered.

2: Proactivity and Connectivity

In this case, customers are crying out for some proactivity from their service provider and they are looking for someone to create connections between them and other people they can do business with.  The franchisee has to become the hub of a wheel with many spokes.

3: Moments of Truth

So clients recognise that they are receiving a top notch service franchisees should always be looking to create moments of truth – those special moments that don’t earn any extra income (immediately, at least) but mean a lot to the client.

4: Managing Expectations About the Product

It’s only when you get down to the fourth layer of service do we begin to talk about the product.  Of course, the product has to be right for the client to keep coming back, but beyond this fundamental requirement, it’s not necessarily the delivery itself, but the way the product is delivered… and more than anything it’s about communication; keeping the client informed at every stage what’s happening.

So, customer needs some thinking about.

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