How has your business progressed its service excellence agenda? This is my big question for the upcoming International Customer Service Week that is celebrated in the first week of October annually. So next week, Monday 3rd to Friday 7th will be the week of celebrations worldwide.
While the strict intention is to celebrate employees as special individuals who serve customers in a way that brings service excellence alive in a business, many businesses take the opportunity to celebrate and show appreciation for their customers as well.
Juxtaposed with all of the merriment around serving customers, my opening question is intended to encourage businesses to examine, in a sober way, their rate of success in using service excellence as a brand differentiation strategy. Maybe a blunt way of posing the question would be, “What is your business qualified to celebrate?”
If the week is dedicated to celebrating service professionals and customers alike, surely there should be something substantial to celebrate. Not fluffy showmanship that acts as a cover-up for the absence of positive returns on investment in both employee and customer happiness. In other words, businesses should be celebrating “real results” that have been shown to improve the lives of their customer communities.
How has your business progressed its service excellence agenda?
Let me spotlight three types of businesses that appear during this week. There are the “band wagonists” that can’t resist joining the merriment, too much of a salacious opportunity to miss. These are the businesses that cannot be bothered to invest time, resources and money during the course of the year, to ensure a great customer experience, but will bring out the bells and whistles during this week, (once a year), to host a customer appreciation day and hoist the “valued” employee flags.
Then there’s the other group of businesses that are value creators for their customers, all year round. These are the brands that are beloved by their customer communities. To these businesses, customer service week is just another week in the ongoing cycle of “normal” celebrations that are hosted for employees and customers, as the business trots out service delivery improvements, all year round.
The third group is a well-meaning group that wants to participate, but has not voluntarily and intentionally initiated customer-centricity as a business strategy. So, to participate in customer service week would appear inauthentic as a brand. This is the group that I am encouraging to come forward, because customer service week is a wonderfully symbolic week to begin shifting the axis of the business, to the side of service excellence and having shifted, it’s what happens beyond customer service week that matters most.
So, for those businesses that are on the verge of shifting service delivery to next-level status, it’s a good idea to start with the question of how the business approaches the concept of progress.
“What is your business qualified to celebrate?”
What has been the rate of change in your business? Non-existent, slow, moderate, speedy, ahead of the curve? It’s important to know this metric, because it gives insight into how committed the business is to remaining relevant to its customers and being a differentiated brand within its industry ecosystem.
How progressive is your business? Customers love businesses that are progressive. To a customer, this means that they are being surprised with continual upgrades to products and services, with ever expanding convenience solutions and with an increasing menu of technology solutions that make transactions and interactions smooth and seamless. A business in this cluster, will be well on its way to being top-of mind with its customers.
Does your business have a clearly articulated way of measuring customer success? Starbucks measures customer success every day, through simple acts of personalization. Amazon Go is another fine example of measurable customer success, linked to a revolutionary convenience solution. Measurement entails having a customer success strategy that is linked to hard business outcomes and profitability. Many businesses do not link these pillars.
Time to move away from using mainly soft targets, (like smiles and greetings), to using hard standards for determining customer success.
Whenever a customer interacts or transacts with a business, he or she is on a multi-pronged customer journey, involving multiple points of contact with people, products, services, processes and technology. For the entirety of the customer’s journey, nothing should go wrong and businesses should be resolute in removing any and all obstacles to a magnificent experience. Now, wouldn’t that be progress.
Customer Service Week 2022 is being celebrated next week.
My new question is, “What will your business be celebrating during the week, that it can pivot into celebrating, all year round?” Let me know.