Boosting Customer Service Part 2

November 3, 2003

Ten Tips for Creating Enticing Customer Service

By: Christopher DeVany

When we are the customer, what do we want from those whose products and service we purchase? How about this for a Top 10 List:

  1. Stand for Better Performance

  2. Greet the Customer Promptly and Courteously

  3. Ask, Listen, Ask and Listen (ALAL)

  4. Offer a Service Promise

  5. Deliver What You Promise (and maybe more!)

  6. “How Did You Hear of Us?”

  7. “What Are We Doing Well?”

  8. “What Can We Do Better?”

  9. “Let’s Stay In Touch”

  10. “Do You Know Anyone Else Who Would Benefit from Our Service?”

Tip #3: Ask, Listen, Ask and Listen (ALAL)
Here is a four-step plan to lead your customers down the path of enticement:
  1. Ask them, “How may I help you?”

  2. Listen carefully to their needs and concerns, writing them down.

  3. Re-state what you heard them say and ask, “Have I heard you correctly?”

  4. Listen again as they confirm your mutual understandings.

One of my managers once taught me, “Chris, you have two ears and one mouth. Strive to listen at least twice as much as you speak.” He was right. Offer help, listen, re-state and confirm. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. While this may be a sad commentary, following this simplified process will put you ahead of at least 90% of the competition.

If you or your employees question this process for one moment, try it on your next five customers. You’ll be glad you did.

Tip #4: Offer a Service Promise
What do you promise your customers? Do you offer a quick call-back? Do you provide a fax response? Do you send e-mail confirmation? Within what time frame? Whatever you do promise, make sure it is better than your competition’s, in some shape or form.

One of the best “service-promisers” is Nordstrom’s. Consistently, no matter what item you are purchasing, if the item is in any way imperfect, I guarantee you that the service person you are working with will look through their inventory, both on the floor and in the stock area, to find a similar item which has no defects.

Nordstrom’s executives and managers are to be commended for their commitment to excellence. By the way, if they don’t have a perfect sample of item you are purchasing available in stock, they will call one of their warehouses and ship it for you no charge. Are you doing something with your customers? Think about it.

Tip #5: Deliver What You Promise (and maybe more!)
Drawing from Tip #4, what do you promise your customers?

Do you offer a quick call-back? Within what time frame do you operate – same day, within 4 hours, 90 minutes or some other standard? What about “within 80 minutes”? This is the response standard for voice mail which our firm offers. Anyone interested in “within 79 minutes”?

Do you provide a fax response? How quickly?

Do you send e-mail confirmation? Do you do so by noon, 5pm or some other standard? Are you reliable? How reliable? When was the last time you tested your organization for its’ responsiveness?

Whatever you do promise, make sure your promises are better than your competition’s, in some shape or form. Remember, you want to be perceived as distinct or unique.

Tip #6: “How Did You Hear of Us?” (Marketing Information)
Asking your customers and prospects, “How did you hear of us?” is crucial to your success. Why? For you to invest your marketing dollars wisely, it is paramount you know how people heard of you, where they found you and using what resources (including word of mouth). Their responses form the basis for your marketing budget. Too many of us have wasted too many dollars chasing phantom customers and ghost profits.

Asking customers this question also gives you another reason to communicate with your customers, including prompting them to talk about what it is they like about your organization, your products and services (more about this later).

Look for tips 7-10 in the next article.

(c) Christopher R. DeVany. All rights reserved.

Chris DeVany is the president of Pinnacle Performance Improvement Worldwide, a management consulting and training firm. For more information, call 508-358-8070, send Chris an e-mail at or visit their Web site at

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