Extraordinary Customer Service
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Posted by: Dr. Alan Zimmerman
Dr. Zimmerman's TUESDAY TIP:
"If you aren't serving the customer you
better be serving someone who is.”
Karl Albrecht, author
Dr. Alan Zimmerman's Personal Commentary:
When you look around
your company or the places where you do business … would you say that customer
service has gotten better, stayed about the same, or gotten worse in the last
few years? Most people report that it has gotten worse. In fact, the research
from Everson Consulting indicates that service levels have stayed about the
same over the past many years. What has changed is the customers'
"expectations”. Customers expect more than ever.
To manage, satisfy,
and even delight your customer expectations, my colleague Terry Everson
recommends the 4 P's. Let me explain them and put my own twist on each of them.
Your look, your
feel, your mood, your manner, your words, your office. As Terry would say,
"They all speak volumes.” What are you "telling” your customers?
That you're a true
professional or just another hustler trying to make a buck?
John Milne, a
customer service expert in Australia, gave one example … an all-too-common
example of unprofessional service. Milne told me about Barry, an award winning
franchise owner in an Australian city, who went to a specialty shop to purchase
some materials for his four franchises. Although there were eight staff in the
shop and few other customers, Barry could not find anyone to welcome and serve
him. Amazingly everyone was pre-occupied, one filing, one texting, and two
chatting. After a few minutes he left, went to a competitor's shop and spent
several hundred dollars. The ugly thing is not one employee realized the loss
to the business that day and every day in the future … the loss in revenue and
To help you come
across professionally, take advantage of my two-for-one special. When you
purchase a copy of my book on "The Service Payoff: How Customer Service
Champions Outserve And Outlast The Competition,” I'll give you a second copy at
no cost. Get your two-for-one special by clicking
No matter how good
or bad a customer might be, you still control you … yourself … and your
attitude. You can be positive with any customer, even if the customer is wrong.
And more often than not, your positive attitude will rub off on the customer
making him or her easier to deal with.
even humor can be effective. It can catch a customer's attention, put a smile
on his face, and help him remember you for a long time after your interaction.
Burma Shave, the
men's shaving cream, mastered that technique back in the 1930′s, 40′s, and
50′s. Before there were interstate highways, when everyone drove the old
two-lane roads, Burma Shave signs were posted all over the countryside in
farmers' fields. They were small red signs with white letters. Five signs,
about 100 feet apart, each containing one line of a four-line couplet……and the
obligatory 5th sign advertising Burma Shave. The signs not only promoted the
product but also made a positive impression on people as they urged people to
For those of you too
young to remember the signs, here are a few examples of the actual signs:
Don't stick your
Out so far
It may go home
In another car.
Trains don't wander
All over the map
‘Cause nobody sits
In the engineer's
Don't lose your head
To gain a minute
You need your head
Your brains are in
Drove too long
What happened next
Is not amusing.
Good morning, nurse.
To her reckless dear
Let's have less bull
And a little more
Speed was high
Weather was not
Tires were thin
X marks the spot.
The midnight ride
Of Paul for beer
Led to a warmer
Around the curve
No matter the price
No matter how new
The best safety
In the car is you.
A guy who drives
A car wide open
Is not thinkin'
He's just hopin'.
Look each way
A harp sounds nice
But it's hard to
The one who drives
When he's been
Depends on you
To do his thinking.
Car in a ditch
Driver in tree
The moon was full
And so was he.
Passing school zone
Take it slow
Let our little
How could you not
feel positive about a company that puts up signs like that? They not only
entertain you but educate you … and chances are, gain a permanent place in your
You need to show the
customer that he or she isn't just another impersonal number. You need to make
your customer FEEL like he or she is the most important person in the world to
you … at the moment you're serving him or her.
Of course, if you're
in the customer service business, you know that isn't always easy to do …
especially when many companies are expecting fewer people to do more work.
After a certain point, the "lean and mean” philosophy or "do more with less” gets to be a bit ridiculous.
Milne talked about
that when he explained John's situation when he visited one of Australia's
leading department stores to buy a new pair of shoes. John looked far and wide
but couldn't find a salesperson to help him. So John called out, "Hello, anyone
home?” An experienced salesman appeared in the distance with the promise of
service in his eye and saved the day. He found the perfect shoes and shyly
explained that staff cutbacks had gone so far that twelve people had been
reduced to two. Nonetheless, during their time together, the salesperson made
John feel like he was extremely important to him.
You can do the same
thing. Instead of being a negative, whining customer service rep who thinks,
"Oh no, there comes another customer, just when it's time for our break.” you
can be the service rep who makes every interaction with a customer FEEL
As much as you might
pride yourself on being a multi-tasker, the customer can sense if you're really
"present” or have your head somewhere else. Simply put, you cannot be reading
your e-mail while talking to a customer on the phone, and you cannot be
thinking about your upcoming date with an exciting new man or woman while
interacting with your customer. You've got to be "present” in mind and body.
I had to learn that
lesson the hard way. When one of my kids asked me if we could watch a Veggie
Tale video before church one Sunday, I said sure. I would be glad to watch the
movie with her. She got all excited, put in the DVD, came back and sat on my
lap. And then with all the innocence of a child she asked me, "But Daddy, can
you watch the movie with me with your eyes open?”
My "customer” realized that even though I was "with” her, I wasn't "present.” And your
customers can tell the difference as well.
You can't control
your customer, but when you implement these 4 P's of extraordinary customer
service, you'll create satisfied customers … and perhaps delighted and loyal
customers as well most of the time.
Rank order the four
P's of customer service in your department from one to four, with one being the
best. Which item ranked # four? What are you going to do about it?
About the author:
As a best-selling
author and Hall of Fame professional speaker, Dr. Alan Zimmerman is focused on
"transforming the people side of business.” His keynotes and seminars are noted
for high content, high energy, and high involvement that transform people's
lives and the companies where they work. To learn more about his programs and
products, or to receive a free subscription to his weekly Internet newsletter,
go to http://www.DrZimmerman.com.
Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alan Zimmerman's Internet
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