Exceptional customer service requires extra effort


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Bell1 copyThis post is the sixth in a series that will fully explore the definition of customer service offered in an earlier post.

Too often, customer service is viewed as a department, a designated employee’s job role or, someone else’s responsibility. Because of this limited view of customer service, many employees are content to simply execute a series of mandatory job functions until the end of their shifts—blissfully unaware of the myriad opportunities forfeited to make lasting positive impressions on their customers.

To expand on this narrow definition of customer service, I’d like to submit my own definition for consideration: Customer service is a voluntary act that demonstrates a genuine desire to satisfy, if not delight, a customer.

The sixth element contained in this definition that we’ll explore further is that exceptional customer service requires extra effort to elevate an experience from ordinary (satisfactory) to extraordinary (delightful).

I’m not referring to a Herculean effort, whereby employees breathlessly run from one dramatic customer service encounter to the next—either to exceed customer expectations or to compensate for flawed service models. Not only are these actions unsustainable, contrary to popular belief, they’re not required to deliver exceptional customer service.

The employees who consistently shine in the eyes of customers are those who willingly expend discretionary effort in the moment of choice. They do the little things that, collectively, make a big difference:

  • Rather than passing a customer without acknowledging her, these employees make eye contact, smile, and offer an appropriate greeting.
  • Instead of ignoring the stray cup in the parking lot or the candy wrapper in the corridor, these employees pick up debris and properly dispose of it.
  • As opposed to robotically going through the motions while processing the next transaction, these employees express genuine interest in customers and convey authentic enthusiasm for serving them.

Cynical employees will mock these examples, ascribing them to naïve employees or “goody-goodies” who’ve yet to learn how to get paid for doing the bare minimum. That’s okay because the “goody-goodies” have a plan. They’re the ones who recognize that their extra effort will be rewarded with increased tips, better shifts, and eventual promotions to positions of greater responsibility.

The difference between ordinary and extraordinary really is that little “extra.”

And knowing this truth about exceptional customer service provides the sixth piece to an elusive 7-piece puzzle that, when assembled, provides employees with a very clear image of what exceptional customer service is and what’s required of them to consistently deliver it.

Don’t settle for ordinary. Choose extraordinary. (It’s always a choice.) Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.

Watch the 90-second book trailer.

Illustration by Aaron McKissen.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steve Curtin
Steve Curtin is the author of Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary. He wrote the book to address the following observation: While employees consistently execute mandatory job functions for which they are paid, they inconsistently demonstrate voluntary customer service behaviors for which there is little or no additional cost to their employers. After a 20-year career with Marriott International, Steve now devotes his time to speaking, consulting, and writing on the topic of extraordinary customer service.


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