If I Give Good Customer Service Do I have A Competitive Advantage?


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Whether or not we’d like to admit it, we all compete with others on a daily basis; in the workplace that rivalry may evidence itself when we vie for a promotion, a job, or year-end raise.  Regardless of who you are competing against, certain service fundamentals can differentiate you from your competition.


Take your purpose to a higher level.  Always understand the ultimate purpose of the job.  If you view your role at face-value only, you may approach that job very clerically, overlooking opportunities that inevitably will present themselves.  If on the other hand, you realize why you perform that task, every task will be positively influenced even when the course of action hasn’t been previously defined.

To illustrate, a benefits administrator could perform his or her role in a very perfunctory manner.  However, if the individual realizes the ultimate purpose of every benefits program is to improve employee morale and ultimately increase retention, every day tasks are performed differently.  Even a simple phone call becomes an opportunity to improve the caller’s perception of the firm.  Understand your purpose, and change the way you perform that job.

Standardize the Experience.  Everyone gives great service occasionally.  Differentiate yourself by providing great service consistently.  Define who it is you want to be, identify the qualities that are necessary in order to achieve that objective, and align your behavior accordingly.  For example, if you want to be known as someone who is easily approachable and dependable, be consistently prompt, friendly, and behave in a manner that lends itself appropriately.  Consistently self-audit your behavior and solicit feedback from trusted friends and colleagues to ensure your behavior is aligned with your objectives.  In the process, you will make the best impression possible.

Connect with Your Clients.  Communication makes a lasting impression.  Does your communication style make the impression you want?  Connecting with your clients may take many forms, but generally means you are accessible, return messages, and have a professional presence: In person, on the phone, throughe-mail, and even in your voicemail message.  Take that one step further.  Understand what is important to the people you communicate with and show interest in them and their well-being.

Own the Experience.  Be accountable for the outcome.  Follow-up.  Too many people today make promises or commit to deadlines they cannot or do not keep.  Ensure you have a systematic process in place so you are able to deliver a quality product when you promised it, without someone reminding you.

When the Answer is “No”Never answer a request with a simple ‘no’.  Always offer alternatives or the reason why you absolutely can’t do something.  Anticipate situations you may frequently come across, and be ready to offer a thoughtful answer.  In the process, you will be perceived as being much more helpful.

When Your Clients Don’t Know What They Don’t Know.  Don’t assume others know what you do.  Speak in easy to understand, jargon-free language and make people feel important in the process.  Language that is only known to a few people tends to alienate others who are not familiar with the terms or acronyms.

When Something Happens.  There are times when you will make mistakes or miss deadlines; other times things will happen that are outside of your control.  Regardless of the cause, it is always better to address the circumstance immediately, rather than assume an attitude of avoidance, hoping no one notices the issue.  Not only will the person you’re interacting with respect you for being forthcoming, but it also puts you in control of the situation.  For, when you proactively let others know of the issue, you can also give them a status on how the problem was resolved, and at the very least, have all relevant information in front of you.

When It’s Not Your Job.  There are going to be times when people will request you to do  something that is not your responsibility.  The next time this happens to you, give direction so you help the client or colleague get the information they need.  Better yet, take care of the request anyway and become their hero.

Be Nice, and Know What You’re Talking About.  Caring is the only element of service that can’t be taught and yet it is vital in providing a great service impression.  In addition to caring for the people we come in contact with, we should all constantly seek to improve our professional and technical skills, understanding not only what we do, but why we do it.

Ensure a Good Experience and Recover When It’s NotNo one wants to make mistakes, and you should do everything possible to avoid them.  What happens when you make a mistake says a lot about who you are as a person, however.  Don’t be afraid to give an occasional heart-felt apology and make amends for any inconvenience you may have caused.  Put a process in place to ensure the error doesn’t happen again.  A good service recovery experience can make your clients or colleagues admire you even more than before.

Measure Your Progress and Listen to FeedbackSet goals and objectives for yourself.  Measure your progress on a regular basis, and seek the honest feedback of your friends and colleagues.  Constantly assess whether the experiences you are providing to others are helping you to achieve your objectives.

Use Recognition Programs to Foster Your Service CultureReward yourself when you achieve your objectives.  Too many people overlook the importance of appreciating and celebrating what has been accomplished.  It’s important to be good to yourself too!

Applying these 12-steps will help you create a personal brand that can differentiate you from your competition, and can be applied in any circumstance.


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