It’s easy to spot indifference to service excellence and even easier to spot a business with a passion for it. The two points of reference could not be further apart I might add. The indifferent player is a frequent ball-dropper, whilst the passion player shows love to customers every chance it gets, at every point of contact and from end to end, along all contact journeys. They’re actually on two different teams and playing in two different leagues.
Let’s reflect on some of the tell-tale signs of businesses that are committed to delivering service at a level that is differentiated in a superlative way.
It’s easy to spot indifference to service excellence and even easier to spot a business with a passion for it.
First of all, their defining threshold for excellence is really high, so typically, when it comes to service delivery and customer experience, they aim for the moon, not just to be ahead of their nearest competitors. This space is typically at the apex of the competitive universe, where players are not plentiful.
Secondly, these businesses don’t talk about change in the traditional way. They speak about “transitions.” To them, change and uncertainty are standard features of life, not remarkable anomalies that justifiably attract excessive fear and crippling anxiety, (as in the case of the covid pandemic that wreaked excessive and sustained disruption). They live with change and plan for transitions.
A tell-tale sign is that leaders are willing to face their own inadequacies. These leaders have made peace with the fact that their purpose is not to be brilliant know-it-alls, but to champion the release of brilliance across the business. Their talent lies in harnessing the brilliance that exists in the business to achieve competitive advantage.
The indifferent player is a frequent ball-dropper, whilst the passion player shows love to customers every chance it gets, at every point of contact and from end to end, along all contact journeys.
An unmistakeable sign is that leaders are unafraid to demonstrate authentic empathy. Empathy is not bolted on as an accessory to impress the masses. When these leaders meet staff members and say, “How are you today?” they stop to listen, with active and genuine interest. Their level of empathy and care is not simply emblematic of the position, it’s “real.” These leaders understand that showing empathy is a sign of strength and not one of weakness, a trait that engenders leadership relatability amongst employee constituencies.
Another sign is that the business focusses on creating a unified customer experience, by looking at the “totality of the experience.” The sum of the parts matters as much as the individual parts. Many businesses focus on the frontline experience, whilst neglecting to monitor the online experience, or the back-office experience.
It has been shown that the smooth transitioning between these three points of contact, during a single transaction, is one of the biggest sources of discomfort and vexation for customers. Committed businesses don’t gamble with the possibility of disjointed customer journeys, they eschew silos and orchestrate their inner workings to create a connected internal business network.
A tell-tale sign is that leaders are willing to face their own inadequacies.
Let me mention here, that many businesses are myopic in their approach to delivering customer value. They confuse winning the sale with winning the customer, without realizing that the sale delivers business revenue and only touches the tip of the customer value iceberg. The task of winning the customer would have only just begun.
The “real” customer experience sharpens when the customer turns the acquisition bend and begins to conduct business with sustained frequency. While marketing and sales are just the pipelines to bring the customer in to the business, customer value is connected to the ongoing emotional, transactional, relational, social and commercial stream of return on the investment, that a customer makes with a business.
A big tell-tale sign is the strategic use of technology in optimizing business transactions for customers. One benefit lies in the democratization of data. When employee effort is supported by relevant and accessible data that presents a unified view of the customer, it’s amazing how the probability of better decision-making goes up.
Another sign is that the business focusses on creating a unified customer experience, by looking at the “totality of the experience.”
I’ve left one of the most powerful signs for last. The businesses that have the audacity to think of themselves as five-star, stellar and legendary brands, typically behave that way. Everything associated with their brand is polished with a five-star veneer, elevating the customer experience to a “total brand experience.”
So, what’s our takeaway from all of this commentary about businesses that are committed to service excellence? That there must be no cleavage between the promise and the delivery of a superlative customer experience.
When promise and delivery are conjoined, it’s a pathway to business longevity.