This article was originally published on the FCR blog on October 31, 2017. Click here to read the original.
Innovation is a term often reserved for the cool startup or the latest must have piece of technology. But how often do you hear it used to describe customer service? In his latest book, Kaleidoscope, Chip Bell inspires us with many examples of companies that have moved beyond merely good service that satisfies customers, to an innovative experience that compels them to advocate for the company.
The kaleidoscope is a perfect illustration for “value-unique service,” as he calls it. The mirrors inside reflect what’s most important to customers. The cylinder, called an animator, creates beautiful, unique patterns that awe users. For the individual or company looking to innovate the service they provide, here are five quotes and concepts from the book that stand out.
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“Enchanting, innovative service, like the image created inside the kaleidoscope, is handcrafted and intended to make recipients swoon, sigh, and giggle.”
Bell shares of the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia that left classic toys, including a Slinky and a kaleidoscope, in his room when he arrived for a stay, inviting him to enjoy his stay. He tells of another experience where a chef in New Orleans delivered tiny, beautifully designed pastries to him in an ornate jewelry box. These creative and innovative extras leave an imprint in the mind of customers where a routine encounter might not.
“Honor and trust are the lifeblood of repeat business. To serve well is to enter into a covenant with a customer that guarantees worth will be exchanged for worth and in a way that keeps central the customers’ best interests.”
I’m sure anyone can list multiple companies that don’t have their best interests a heart — whether it’s the cable company, insurance, or an airline. When we provide consistently great service and focus on the long term relationship rather than short term gain, trust is built with customers that can sustain even through difficult times. Bell says, “The worth of a great customer experience requires a focus not on the transaction costs, but on the relationship value.”
“When things go wrong for customers, they only value your competence after they have witnessed your compassion. Great service recovery lets a disappointed or angry customer know you are there to fix, not to fight.”
We speak often in the contact center of the importance of empathizing with customers, but how often is it conveyed as raw, genuine compassion as opposed to a scripted response? The more we can connect authentically with our customers first, the better we’ll be able to recover from difficult issues that arise.
“The service you provide is a kind of business card. It telegraphs what you want your customers to remember.”
Bell tells a great story about a shoe repair man whose shop wasn’t even opened yet. Instead of saying, “Unfortunately my shop doesn’t open for thirty minutes,” he fixed the shoes and threw in a shine at no extra charge — while Bell ate his breakfast. At the end of the interaction, the shoe man said, “Please come back to see me again, partner!” I love this example of someone who realizes that it’s not just about repairing this pair of shoes — it’s about repairing the next pair and the pair after that.
“Invite your customer on a detail treasure hunt. You can set it up like this: ‘Thank you for being our customer. We are trying to see more details that we don’t see that you do see.’”
When it comes to our own customer experience, we are often too close to the situation to see problems. We’re too quick to explain them away as “just the way things are.” This concept of a detail treasure hunt coupled with some sort of incentive for the customer is a great way to understand what issues and details really matter to customers. This is a great idea for improving the customer experience.
As Bell concludes the book, he says, “Winning organizations deliver service experiences that get people talking, not just walking.” Kaleidoscope is a quick, easy read that may just be a catalyst you need for moving your customer service from routine to memorable — transforming satisfied customers into advocates. If you’ve read the book, leave us a comment and share some of your favorite insights.