The Keys To Great Customer Service, Part 2: Defining Good And Bad Service

Ensuring that you're giving your customers fantastic service has major benefits for your organization, including loyalty and new customers.

Articles published October 25, 2017 by Bobbie Jo Barry

Does your organization consistently provide great customer service?

Think carefully before you answer, and it’s okay if the answer is no. Consistently delivering great customer service can be impacted by a variety of variables out of your control. You can’t prevent every issue that springs up, and you can’t predict the impact inevitable grievances will have on your company.

Everyone has problems and it can be as easy as one of your agents losing their temper. A drastic increase in calls one day could slow your response times momentarily. An irritated customer could take their anger out on your agent. Whatever the scenario, providing excellent service every single call can seem next to impossible. Companies are realizing that when they focus on delivering better customer service across the customer journey, it creates a better customer experience, and they suddenly gain more control over their brand.

It’s no secret customers will take their business elsewhere after a poor experience, but did you know that $41 billion is lost by U.S. companies each year following a bad customer experience? These kinds of bad experiences can negatively impact your reputation and your bottom line.

Just to keep you on your toes, your customers’ preferences are constantly changing. They want to communicate with you through multiple channels, and their preferred communication channels change with the trends.

So, how do you consistently provide quality customer service? It starts with understanding what exactly good and bad customer service means, then it evolves into practical ways you can achieve great service, and adapting your services to align with what your customers want.

In this second part of my four-part series on discovering the keys to great customer service, we’re going to discuss both kinds of customer service, and why the kind of service you offer matters in the overall customer service picture.

The Dark Side of Customer Service

To understand excellent customer service, we first must define what is bad customer service. I’ve found that it’s much easier to remember my negative experiences than my positive ones, and statistics back that up. Not surprisingly, 95 percent of customers that had a bad service shared their experience with others, and 54 percent of them shared it with more than five people. However, when they received good service, 87 percent shared the experience with others, and only 33 percent shared it with more than five people.

In addition, customers that receive bad service avoid the business for two or more years.

This shows just how important it is to provide great customer service all the time: because one negative experience can ruin everything.

However, there is some value in talking about negative experiences, because we can learn from other organizations’ mistakes, and make sure that our customers aren’t being treated that way.

1. Let Them be Free

Problem: One hotel took desperate measures when it came to their customer Yelp reviews. They threatened to fine reviewers $500 if they left the hotel a negative review. So, what did their customers do? They went on the hotel’s Facebook page and posted all their negative comments there. This story was picked up by major news outlets, and the hotel’s reputation and revenues fell because of it.

Lesson learned: Don’t restrict what your customers can or cannot say or do. Don’t try to take away any freedoms. By allowing customers to post feedback, you can receive honest criticism and improve future interactions and experiences.

2. Make it Easy

Problem: A global telecommunications company was publicly highlighted for a very rigorous retention program after a customer called to cancel and was met with horrible service and an agent that tried everything in his power to get the customer to change their mind. This led to the company apologizing for the incident, after the media attention gave them a lot of bad press.

Lesson learned: While customer retention is a good thing, you should set a reasonable limit on how far you’ll go and how hard you’ll try. Don’t make it irritating for the customer to cancel service, so that they don’t have a bad taste in their mouth if they ever decide to come back.

3. Respond to Questions

Problem: A well-known food manufacturer deleted all comments and questions on their social media pages that referred to their use of genetic modified organisms (GMOs). As you would expect, their customers got upset that their comments were being deleted without the food manufacturer actually responding.

Lesson learned: While it can be acceptable to delete certain comments that are malicious, contain inappropriate language, or profanity, it’s not okay to delete comments for no reason. Respond to questions honestly, even if you may not be able to answer them entirely.

Negative interactions have negative consequences to your organization. According to Zendesk, 52 percent of U.S. consumers have switched providers in the last year because of poor customer service.

Ultimately, bad customer service are situations that negatively impact your reputation and leave a customer dissatisfied. Of course, the goal is to never provide bad customer service, but learning what bad customer service looks like helps define what good customer service is.

Is This Heaven? No, it’s Great Customer Service

We all have an idea of what excellent customer service looks like. It’s going above and beyond what’s expected to deliver an unforgettable experience for the customer that makes them come back again and remain loyal.

But what does that look like? Here are four examples of organizations that provided exceptional customer service that left an impact.

1. Shopping Done Right

A J. Crew customer wanted to use a one-time coupon online but accidentally canceled the order. He emailed J. Crew, and they responded, saying they would hold the order, but he would just have to call to confirm it. When the customer called, the item he wanted was sold out.

So, what did J. Crew do? They stayed on the line with him and helped him pick out items that were very similar to his original purchases, and they even let him use his original coupon.

2. Creativity That Works

Netflix’s customer service is known for getting creative with their chat support and the tone that they use to communicate with customers. One good example of this is a customer that started a live chat because an episode of the TV show he was watching kept looping the same scene over and over again. The Netflix agent started out the chat by saying: “This is Cpt. Mike of the good ship Netflix, which member of the crew am I speaking with today?” The customer responded: “Greetings, Captain. Lt. Norm here.” What followed was a lively conversation in nautical language and tone, that resulted in a positive experience for both parties.

3. Above and Beyond

Zappos is another organization that does great things through their customer service. A customer ordered six shoes for her mother, who had just gone through medical treatment that made her feet numb and sensitive, so she needed a special kind of shoe. Unfortunately, none of the shoes worked, so the mother called Zappos to return the shoes. A few days later, a bouquet of flowers showed up at her door, and they were from Zappos. The customer and her mother were also upgraded for free to “Zappos VIP Members,” so that they won’t have to pay for shipping on any of their future orders.

4. Going the Extra Yard is an example of a wedding registry company that goes the extra yard for their customers and provides exceptional customer service. Not only do they provide this support for the bride and the groom, but also for their guests who are buying them presents. With their motto “Anything for Love,” their customer service agents work with customers to help support any issue they are having. A guest was having a hard time finding and picking out a gift for a bride and groom, so the Zola customer service agent worked with the guest for over an hour until they felt the perfect gift had been picked out.

Putting in the effort to create great customer experience pays off. Access Development reports that 97 percent of customers are likely to stay loyal to a company that takes their feedback and does something about it. According to Harris International, 40 percent of customers begin purchasing from a company because of their reputation for exceptional customer service.

All in all, ensuring that you’re giving your customers fantastic service has major benefits for your organization, including loyalty and new customers. But how do you get there? Check back next week for part three.

Would you give your own organization a five-star rating for customer service?

How customer service impacts your bottom line

About The Author

Bobbie Jo Barry

Bobbie Jo Barry has more than 19 years of contact center experience in multiple areas, including designing client facing solutions, managing day to day operations of two contact centers, leading workforce management and contact center managers to success, managing client relationships, and provid ... read more

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