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World Class Customer Service – Creating & Delivering It To Differentiate Your Company

As more and more businesses find themselves fighting against the tide of commoditization, it is becoming increasing difficult, (if not impossible, depending on the product and services) and significantly more expensive, to differentiate from the competition.

I believe the least expensive way to do it is developing true differentiation in customer service. But it has to be truly, exceptionally, noticeably unique and different. How can a company with limited resources and with its products and services continually fighting commoditization differentiate itself with “world class” customer service?

By creating an initiative that among other strategies combines customer service training and employee engagement. But neither in the way companies traditionally try to do those 2 things.

I thought of this approach after being reminded recently about a former client whose company leadership preached to employees about providing ”world class” customer service.

Yet, when I asked many of those same employees to define “world class” customer service and how they were expected to deliver it, I received mostly blank stares.

The great thing about employees is that they are also customers. Every single one of them has experiences organizational leaders should be tapping into. Most do not.

Instead of bringing in a “customer service expert” to take employees through a training on customer service, there isan alternate solution.

Imagine if you were holding an internal customer service symposium that would tap into the collective genius and life-long experience of the people in your organization. Doing a program like that would:


  1. Allow you to engage your best advocates in solutions to improve your company from the bottom up;
  2. Make every one of your employees feel valued because their input was requested and the ideas they provided or contributed to were actually seen to be implemented;
  3. Improve motivation and morale;
  4. Give employees ownership of the ideas and strategies making it easier to hold themselves and their teammates accountable for the implementation;
  5. Improve customer service, customer relationships and customer retention.

Here’s how it would work:

  1. Get as many company leaders and employees together in one room as possible.
  2. Pair up people at different levels, President-Receptionist, Board Chairman-janitor, etc.
  3. Give each group 30-minutes to share one story of the BEST example of customer service experience they’ve ever experienced; a time when someone truly exceeded their expectations.
  4. Create a forum/format for capturing the best ideas from each of those experiences.
  5. Brainstorm additional ideas that your company can add or build on the ideas captured from the stories.
  6. Vote on the 10 best ideas that are a fit for your company that you are not already doing.

Now you have a list of 10 hot ideas for improving your customer relationships, but you are not finished as 2 key steps remain:

  1. Identify and list all past, present and future obstacles (excuses) to implementing these ideas
  2. Commit to strategies for eliminating those excuses that are the highest priority items so you can begin implementation of the ideas within 30-days.

These final two steps are what a colleague of mine calls “the secret sauce.”

Without attacking those final two steps, the entire effort will not just be wasted, but it will undermine and sabotage morale and motivation moving forward and you can forget about people contributing their ideas again in the future.

One final note is that you don’t have to necessarily be able to eliminate all the obstacles identified to implement a particular strategy, but you do need to give people reasons for why it's not possible, or not possible at this time. The feedback and loop closing is key so people feel heard and valued.

But if the item is on your top 10 of “Customer Service Strategies we should implement” I’d jump through a fiery hoop to eliminate those obstacles to make it happen and set yourself apart from your competition to create a killer gap between yourself and your competition.

Often, because of emotional connection to the topics and situations, certain relationships in the room and unintended positional intimidation, it is difficult and less than effective to have an internal person facilitate these types of sessions and it can be more effective to have an external facilitator experienced in bringing groups to consensus on ideas such as these.

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