How to Get Better with Your Customers

One of the best ways to get better is to do that thing I called a paradigm shift earlier in this program. A paradigm shift means doing a complete "flip flop" in your thinking and actions. It means turning your entire focus away from the specifics of the service you are providing to the way in which you are providing it to your customers. Remember: You're not doing customers a favor by serving them. They're doing you a favor by giving you the opportunity to serve them. You should know your service so well that the process of providing it should be second nature to you. Now you can focus your energies on delivering what is called either "knock your socks off service" or my favorite term, "positively outrageous service (POS)." We could also call this kind of service customer-focused care.

Delivering outrageous service or customer focused care is what I mean by getting better 'n better. This may mean that you will need to spend time re-thinking and re-prioritizing service as you now deliver it.

Remember a lot of organizations are providing the same services that your organization provides so what makes you any more memorable to your customer than they are?

Excellent Service isn't the result of doing one thing 1,000 percent better. It's the result of doing thousands of things 1 percent better.

(LeBoeuf, p. 80)

Because Positively Outrageous Service (POS) is the most involving, touching kind of service, trends now favor those organizations that serve outrageously. Digital Equipment Company's Customer Service Department puts it another way: Customers don't care what you know, until they know that you care.

Let me give you a simple example of POS by telling you a true story that truly focuses on a customer.

One cold morning, a businessman stopped by a local 7-11 for his usual cup of coffee. Normally, he got coffee at the Dunkin Donuts, but it was frigid outside, and he couldn't wait to travel the additional eight blocks it would take to get there. Her name was Roberta. At least that was what her nametag said. Her total attention belonged to a tall, elderly gentleman who had placed his purchases on the counter. He stood as straight as possible, adjusted his collar and scarf and extended an extremely arthritic hand to her. Roberta slipped the handle of the plastic bag onto his wrist and waited for his other age-spotted hand to find its way to hers. She warmed his hands as tenderly as the businessman had ever witnessed, then calling the old gentleman by his name, she smiled and said, "Be careful walking home in this snow. I want to see you here again tomorrow." Not what the businessman expected from a 7-11!. He said, "How come the special treatment? Are you related to him?" "No relation," came the reply. "He's my customer." Then she tossed her hair, smiled and said, "Oh thank heaven for 7-11."

In her book titled Customers for Keeps, Geller defines customer service in this new millennium as "friendship branding," a living, evolving experience between two people: the employee and the customer. It is the only book out there that shows you how to find and keep your customers by treating them like friends.

Geller offers eight strategies to turn customers into friends and keep them forever. Here are two of the most critical of the eight the author suggests:

I am adding a quote by Muhammad Ali about friendship that seems to expand upon this concept of friendship branding.

Friendship is the hardest thing in the world to explain. It's not something you learn in school. But if you haven't learned the meaning of friendship, you haven't really learned anything.

Muhammed Ali

Positively Outrageous Service is the story you can't wait to tell. It is also unexpected service delivered at random. It is out of the ordinary and out of proportion to the circumstance. It is a memorable event and so unusual that customers feel compelled to tell others about the experience. It is the kind of service that creates lifetime customers (Gross, p. 1). What it means to me is that your customer is expecting good service but what he really wants is an experience or an event. Some words that further describe outrageous service are words like: fun, playful, surprising, entertaining, caring, and not necessary.

The word unexpected is probably the key definition of Positively Outrageous Service. It appears that the element of surprise and novelty that jolts the attention of your customer will create an experience or event that's memorable because it is so different from their expectation. We'll talk more about ways to deliver POS later. Let me leave you with the following anonymous poem that I think emphasizes the special kind of service that POS should be:

Service is a special joy
Not just a job to do.
At least that's the way it's meant to be
So say those folks with Woo.
Loving on customers can be a chore
Or a privilegeā€¦it depends.
On who's the server, who's the guest,
And the messages we send.