The Manifesto for BAM!-Good Customer Service


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Communicating via social media tools like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube have turned the world of customer service upside down. It used to be that a dissatisfied customer would tell 7 people. Now, they can instantly tell 10,000. With these new tools, effective customer service must become the new focus for any business.

Whenever you do business with your customer, there are spoken, unspoken, and written contracts. When we sell something to someone or agree to buy something from someone, there is a basic, implied promise that the exchange will be done in a fair and mutually satisfying way. However, for BAM! (Bust A Myth)-good customer service to take root, a business needs much more than good intentions, a fancy tagline, or even a promise.

The commitment you make to your customer needs to be a manifesto—a public declaration of all that you intend to do for the customer to make your business relationship mutually satisfying and keep them coming back.

With a public manifesto, customers will know exactly what they can expect from the company they are doing business with. Employees of the company also know exactly what they are committed to deliver to their customers. A manifesto holds the company to a standard without wiggle room. The customer manifesto is the most complete reflection of a company’s attitude and actions in dealing with

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all manifesto, but there are points that every company must make in their own way if a manifesto is to be effective, actionable, and believable. Here is what needs to be included:

  1. We will deliver on what we promised.
    Sounds simple, doesn’t it? The company will deliver the product or service we promised at the price and method we agreed upon with the customer. But this can get tricky unless both the company and the customer are on the same page. Does the customer know exactly what they are buying? It is the company’s obligation to make sure they do. Does the customer understand the ultimate or final price (now or over a period of time)? Are they receiving the service or product in the timeframe they agreed?

    Accomplishing this one time is easy. Doing it for every transaction for every customer becomes very difficult. The goal of smaller companies is to achieve this level of consistency, no matter who or where the customer is, and no matter which employee is providing which product or service. The more complicated and diversified a company’s products are, the more challenging delivering a consistent product or service becomes. A company may source raw materials, components, or even entire products from outside the company. Different employees may deliver the product or service in different ways depending on the industry or the geographic market they serve.

  2. If you are dissatisfied with our product or service, we will listen attentively to all your concerns.
    Listening and empathizing with the customer is really the first and most important step! Listening attentively means listening with the intention of understanding the issue as completely as it takes to solve the customer’s problem from their viewpoint and to help them feel satisfied.
  3. When things go wrong, we will be easy to reach in an economically feasible manner.
    We will not lead you on a wild goose chase and put you through “voice mail jail” or a maze that would make any architect jealous. When you call any of our telephone numbers, you will always be able to talk to a real person by pressing zero. We want to be easy to reach and will display our contact information clearly on our Web site. We will provide multiple ways to contact us, including telephone, e-mail, and online chat.
  4. We will resolve your issues in a reasonable manner and time frame or give you a refund or compensate you in a manner that leaves you as satisfied as possible.
    In a world that is moving faster and faster, where buyers seem to have less and less patience, the time frame becomes critical. What the company provides to the customer also influences expectations. Unless you have caused collateral damage in providing your service or product, a full refund delivered quickly and graciously will usually satisfy the customer. Sometimes it is better to issue a refund and make the problem go away than to invest the time of more people trying to solve the issue a different way. This is a quick cost-and-benefit analysis that every employee needs to be trained to do.

    For example, when you want to return low-priced products to Oriental Trading Company, they tell you not to send them back. Instead, they give you a refund and ask you to donate the products to charity. Their goods are priced inexpensively, so the cost of processing a return doesn’t make sense. Think about the impression you can make on the customer for doing this! A refund also releases you from the implied contract with the customer. This is a good thing, because sometimes you do not want to have that dissatisfied customer as a customer. Some customers are unable to be satisfied. By giving a refund, at the very least you end your obligations to them (or you hope).

  5. We will admit when we made a mistake.
    The best chance to resolve a customer concern is to admit that a mistake was made by your company. Teach your employees to take personal responsibility and not pass either the blame or resolution to fix to someone else or another department in the company. It is quite the disturbing trend in business when the person who is there to solve your concern passes the blame on to another part of the company or back to the customer.

    In the eyes of the customer, you are all one company, and saying that it is another department’s fault can cause the customer to feel more dissatisfied about the company. Of course, this means that the company must be willing to not beat its employees up for every mistake. It also means that when an employee takes responsibility for a customer, it does not mean that he or she is personally at fault.

  6. We will empower our employees to solve your issue at the point it occurs.
    All our employees will be able to help you, and you will not have to wait for “the manager.” We want to resolve the issue as soon as possible. The customer does not always want to wait for a “supervisor” or have some nameless and faceless person make a decision about them.

    Training inside of your company must be such that the people on the front lines can actually help the customer with specific actions. This takes hiring people who are not afraid to act on their own within the guidelines that the company sets. It takes clear objectives through training of these employees. Most importantly, it takes trusting your employees to take the appropriate action and then getting out of the way so they can do it. Monitoring what they are doing in specific situations will help. You also need to train the supervisor to coach the employees on what they can and cannot do on their own.

  7. We will not force you to buy something you do not want.
    Do not put undue restrictions on what your customers can buy by over-bundling. Bundling of products may offer additional value, but a customer should not be required to get the one thing they really want through buying a bunch of things they don’t want. Cable companies are notorious for this. To get the best price from the cable company, consumers frequently need to buy all Internet, cable, and phone service in a bundle.
  8. We will make it easy to end our business relationship.
    Of course we want to keep you as a customer, but we understand that our products and services are not for everyone. We will make it easy to stop being your provider in a courteous and quick manner, and be hopeful that you will return one day. We will wish you well, conclude any unfinished business, release you from any obligations we feel you have to us, do our best to satisfy any obligations you feel we have to you, and then move on.

    It is typically so easy to sign up to start doing business with a company. Sometimes, it can be a nightmare when you want to stop. Have you ever tried to find how to cancel an online service? You know that the right button must be hidden in there somewhere, yet it turns into a treasure hunt. What is even more maddening is when you want to cancel your account and you get passed to a “special team” that handles these kinds of things. This feels like punishment or being manipulated into attending a timeshare lecture, or being forced to go to traffic school.

  9. We will not charge separate nuisance fees or surcharges.
    There is nothing more maddening than buying products for one price and being charged all sorts of unexpected nuisance fees. We have all been in restaurants where they charge for splitting an entrée or have minimum amounts per person. This is nonsense and completely at odds with offering BAM!-good customer service the way the customer wants it..

    Mail-order companies were famous for “handling charges,” and we have recently seen “fuel surcharges” on our bills with the rapid change in energy prices. Customers can see through this as a way to make extra money or defray costs. This breaks the manifesto. Companies easily add on these surcharges, but most of the time they become permanent. Interestingly, many of the most successful Internet companies do not charge handling or even shipping charges.

  10. We will treat you with respect and dignity at all times.
    This means that we will listen attentively when you talk and not interrupt you. We will try to see your point of view. We will speak in a calm tone of voice without expressions of frustration or disgust. We will not say one thing to your face and another when we hang up the phone. We will tell you when we disagree and why, but our goal is to express our opinion and also see your point of view.
  11. When we decide to change something in our agreement (raise or lower our prices, alter our hours, drop or add a service or product), we will tell you in advance in a very public way.
    In a business relationship, things change. When they do, we will communicate fully in enough time so that you can make the choices you need to make. There is nothing inherently wrong with raising prices. If you add value to your customers, they will accept this as a part of doing business. If you need to alter your terms of service or drop an unprofitable product, your customers may not be happy, but they will understand. Most people are not unreasonable. The key is to give customers advance notice so they can make the decision they need based on what the company plans to do. Unfortunately, too many companies try to push through stealth price increases, hoping that their customers won’t notice.
  12. We will never, ever, ever give or sell any information about you without your permission.
    This is probably the biggest contribution that the Internet has made in the age of customer service. Personal information is easily accessible in mass quantities from many databases. Companies must never ever share this information with anyone outside the company without customers’ explicit permission. We recommend devoting a visible area of the company’s Web site to clearly and publicly state how customer information is used inside the company, under what conditions the company would ever share it, and an easy-to-use step for customers to opt out.
  13. We will offer you several convenient ways to provide feedback on our products and services.
    If you share your opinions and experiences with us, we will listen to what you have to say. You will know that we listened because we will respond to you and follow up in a reasonable time frame. It is important to understand that customers may want to give the company feedback in many different forms at many different points of the sales, delivery, and service process. The company wants to be able to ask for and accept feedback from customers at all these stages. Show that you listen by responding immediately through automatic computer means, and then set the expectation on when and how a real person will address their concern and respond.
  14. In every situation, we will ask you what it would take to make you feel satisfied.
    As business people, most of us are not mind readers. We can’t begin to guess what will really make our customer feel happy or satisfied since, as we have discussed, this feeling varies from customer to customer and time to time. If we ask the customer the specific question, “What will it take to make you feel satisfied?” and we are able to do that as a company economically, then we can shorten the service cycle and greatly increase our odds of delivering BAM!-good customer service and creating a happy and satisfied customer.
Barry Moltz
Barry Moltz Group
Barry Moltz has founded and run small businesses with a great deal of success and failure for more than 15 years. Barry is a nationally recognized expert on entrepreneurship who has given hundreds of presentations to audiences ranging from 2 to 2,. His third book, BAM! Delivering Customer Service in a Self-Service World shows how customer service is the new marketing.


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