Tips to Provide Best-in-Class Customer Service


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I had to call the customer-service department the other day at my wireless-service company, and listened to a series of prompts and sub-prompts. As I was doing so, I thought to myself that I wouldn’t be in a phone maze if if I called my bank, because they always have someone pick up the phone. They have no prompts on their phones. Think about that though. These two companies aren’t in the same industry and yet I am comparing the experience I have at one with the other.

Chances are your clients are doing the same thing. They’re comparing your service delivery to the service they get from industries you wouldn’t even consider to be your competition. When is the last time you walked into a store and compared the employees you met to those you met at Disney? Or compared the website of one company to the website to another in a different industry? Compared banking services between firms who aren’t considered competitors? Your service may be adequate if you’re only comparing your service delivery to your competition, but what if you were to expand the scope to best-in-class service providers, just as your clients are? How would you measure up then?

If you want to turn your clients into advocates, it is necessary to provide best-in-class service for the touch points that are important to your clients. This is true because even if your customers don’t leave, they also may not tell others they should work with you either. Why would they, if the service you provide compared to best-in-class service providers falls short?

* List all of your customer-touch points. Include in your list things such as your phones, website, statements, office, store or restaurant. Detail the experience you currently provide.

* Detail the best-in-class service experience for each touch point listed above. This won’t necessarily be the experience provided by your competition, but the best-in-class experience provided by anyone in any industry.

* Compare the experience you provide to the best-in-class service provider. That will identify your true gap.

* Prioritize and close the important gaps based upon what is important to your clients and the cost and difficulty to implement the change. Even if you don’t close the gaps immediately, it is important to understand where you stand all the same.

In order to truly be considered best-in-class, expand the scope of who you compare your service experience. Chances are, your clients are already doing so.


  1. I can relate to your story about customer service from your wireless phone company. I have had a similar experience with mine. As a business owner, it amazes me the level of poor customer service that is practiced today. Two things in particular are very rare in business today, 1) good customer service 2) dependability.

    I can’t imaging my company surviving without delivering on both.

  2. I couldn’t agree more Dan. If most businesses delivered poor service, their ability to stay open is jeopardized in this economy. Certain industries seem to be exempt so far, because no clear service leader has surfaced.

    Susan Hoekstra
    Susan Hoekstra & Associates
    Author: The Service Journey
    Customer Service Consultant
    Service Leadership and Customer Service Trainer

  3. Susan

    What you’re advocating is the practice of lateral benchmarking, which I heartliy endorse. Benchmarking typically takes one of 3 forms – intra-company (e.g. one bank branch learning from another), intra-industry (e.g. one bank learning from another) or trans-industry, a.k.a. lateral benchmarking (e.g. your bank learning from your telco). Customers often compare service performances between industries, so it makes sense to learn from best practices in other sectors, and, as you say, if that can be done at the level of the unique touch-point then so much the better.

    Francis Buttle, PhD
    The Customer Champion


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