I don’t care what you do for a living, you are in the customer service business. Here are nine ideas on how to stand out from the herd with your service (and even if you aren’t running a store or hotel, everyone of the underlying principles apply to all of us):
1. Offer an outrageous customer service policy that people will truly notice. Zappos, the on-line shoe biz, offers customers a 100% money-back return policy for up to 365 days with free shipping in both directions. 2. Don’t be shy about sending your customers to your competitors when you can’t help them with exactly what they need. Great customer service is about building relationships and long term trust.
3. Reward customers who demonstrate your organization’s values. The Opus Hotel in Vancouver, for example, offers free parking for customers who drive hybrids.
4. At least three companies that I know of offer a 120% refund on returned items to account for the customer’s extra time, gas, and stress in having to return to the store. When you mess up, overcompensating can turn customers into passionate, loyal fans.
5. Consider what companies such as Southwest Airlines do when hiring employees: They try to hire people without prior airline experience so they don’t have to “unlearn them!”
6. Find creative ways you can give back to the community. Over 800 cleaning companies in Canada and the U.S. have partnered with CleaningForaReason.org to offer free house cleaning for anyone undergoing chemotherapy treatment. The companies get to give back, while garnering a hefty amount of goodwill and free marketing.
7. Use creative job titles that reflect that actual scope of duties: Zappos has a Director of First Impressions rather than a receptionist; the Peabody Hotel has a Manager of Vibe instead of a Food & Beverage manager.
8. Surprise customers in some small way. A dentist office I know of refills the parking meters of patients while they are being treated.
9. Offer something truly unique that your competitors haven’t thought of: The Rendezvous in St. Lucia has a Romance Concierge; the Ritz Carlton in Miami has a Tanning Butler; a Dallas Ritz Carlton has a guacamologist; the Loews Coronado Bay Resort in California has a dog surfing instructor! What truly unique position could you create in your organization that will make people sit up and take notice?
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