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Three Reasons Ordinary Customer Service Doesn't Work

And seven ways "experts" provide extraordinary client experiences.

Allyson Lewis, 12/23/2010

Look back over the last week and quickly scan through the list of common interactions you had as a customer and make a mental note of how you rated the customer service models for each of the following encounters:
* Shopping for groceries
* Filling your car up with gasoline
* Purchasing a cup of coffee
* Mailing a package
* Picking up your dry cleaning
* Depositing a check
* Taking your family out to a restaurant for dinner

You likely view the above services as commodities and somewhere deep in your brain you have made the choices of who you will choose to be your provider of these commodities based on things like price, convenience, and even familiarity. Today, companies like those listed above, and definitely companies in the financial services industry, are spending millions of dollars training their employees to improve their customer service skills. But often small changes can make the biggest differences.

Here are three reasons why ordinary customer service doesn't work:

1. There is a difference between perception and reality. As you look at the above list, my belief is you have developed such a long held belief system regarding the ANTICIPATED level of customer service you will experience as you engage with each of these providers that individual encounters will rarely make a profound impact on you. Your perception of past experiences will make it very difficult to change the reality.

2. We all want and expect different levels of service. In order to exceed client expectations, you must clearly define what those expectations are on the front end of the relationship. One of the reasons it is difficult to train for excellent customer service is that every client has a different expectation of what excellent customer service means to them.

3. The service that we think we should give may differ from what the client expects. As service providers, we superimpose our expectations of what great customer service is rather than finding out exactly what each different client expects and choosing to deliver specifically to their needs.

Seven Ways "Experts" Provide Extraordinary Client Experiences
1. "Experts" get it right the first time! 
First impressions are the strongest impressions.  Malcolm Gladwell, in his best-selling book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, says that we all make decisions in the "blink" of an eye.  According to Gladwell's research, by the time you say, "Hello, my name is", your client is already forming the basis for how he or she will view your relationship.

2. "Experts" are Competent! 
Competence, wisdom, and knowledge are powerful tools.  Credentials are important, and I would add being on the cutting edge of learning will help your clients trust that you are working diligently to help them reach their goals and objectives.

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