I’ve worked in customer service for five years now. I believe it is the most important part of a company; its scope is far reaching, including all parts that directly or indirectly affect customers. It’s more important than finance, marketing, sales, marketing management, or any other part of the company. The reason is quite simple: interacting directly with customers is where value can be created, maintained, or taken away.
It’s not about making sure customers are satisfied, which involves maintaining the value we give, but rather making customers happy: ADDING value. Here’s a framework that we use internally to understand how we make customers happy.
You can divide a customer’s experience into three types:
1. The not-so-happy customer = you deliver less than what is expected
When your interaction, product, or service is less than what the customer expects, you withdraw from the “bank account” of customer satisfaction. The customer calls up the customer service, waits for 5 minutes and someone answers, but they are told to look online for the answer. Value is taken away. At some point, the happiness bank account becomes empty, and the customer leaves.
2. The satisfied customer = you deliver what the customer expects; nothing less, nothing more
This is where most companies aim; it’s where you maintain the value. When the customer calls customer service, someone answers and their problem gets solved. The balance in the happiness bank account is the same as before they picked up the phone. Most (60-80%) of companies are in this category
3. The happy customer = you deliver a product or service that is better than expected
Here you deliver more than the customer expects. I had a recent example with Amazon. I broke my Kindle, and the screen didn’t work. I called up customer service to ask how I could get it repaired. I told the woman on the phone that I sat on it and it broke. She just said: “I see. I’d like to send you a new one, free of charge. Which address should I send it to?” Excuse me? Amazon gave me a free Kindle because I sat on the screen and broke it. I posted about my good experience on Facebook. Now Amazon has a couple of new customers, or a brand boost at the least.
Very few companies are aiming for customer happiness, but it’s an easy way to stand out in a competitive marketplace. When there is a large enough balance in the customer happiness bank account, they start recommending the company to friends and colleagues.
It’s also important to understand that the currency of a bad experience is different from that of a good one. A withdrawal from the account has a larger impact than a deposit. We usually say that five happy experiences make up for one bad experience.