Simply the Best


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“Good morning! Welcome to our USA Today route. Now, if I should go completely brain dead and miss you, please don’t hesitate to call me at the number below. I will personally re-deliver your paper as soon as possible. If you have a complaint that you and I can’t solve, you may call my district manager directly. His name and number are also below. Thanks a lot. We really appreciate your business.”

This is the introductory letter to my USA Today home delivery I received with my first paper. It was crafted, copied and conveyed by the local newspaper delivery person. Take a look at its tone and information! Research shows the number one concern of customers of home delivery newspapers is “not getting a paper.” Hazel’s letter deals with that loyalty driver right up front. It clearly leaves you the distinct impression you and your business are truly valued. And, it had no fancy letter head or logo; just a simple note to a new customer.

Focus on What Matters Most

Great service providers make certain they know what attributes or features of service most drive customer loyalty. While airline safety is rated the number one most important feature among airline passengers, it does not drive their loyalty. Passengers assume safety. They select one airline over another based on one-to-one communications; a positive customer experience from ticket purchase to luggage handling; and, employee behavior, according to research done by 1-to-1 Media.

Quick service restaurant chains know that location is their most critical feature. Yet, in today’s over-crowded fast food world, location only wins if you are the only game in town. Typically, plain old fashioned customer service beats everything else in insuring customer loyalty, including the food and the price. Customers today assume the food will be as they expect and the price fair—tickets to play, not tools to differentiate. Hazel knew that concern about non-delivery was a critical driver of loyalty. What is most important to your customer’s loyalty? The best way to find out is…drum roll please, big secret ahead…just ask them!

Say “Thank You”

“Thank you” are the two most important words in the language. Yet, how often are you served and end up as the only one in the equation doing the thanking? You just gave the service provider another way to stay in business; you just forked over your hard-earned money, and you are thanking them? Like Hazel, never take customers for granted. Let them know over and over how grateful you are for their business. If all your customers exited tomorrow (which they certainly could), how well would you fare the day after tomorrow?

The goal of an effective “Thank You” is not simply the expression of a statement but rather the conveyance of a feeling. We have all heard “thanks” directed at us, knowing full well there was little sincerity behind it. Thanks means communicating gratitude in a fashion that makes customers feel your authenticity. Most customer relationships don’t end in dispute. Most wither away from disregard and absent minded inattention. Neglect is more dangerous than strife; indifference is more costly than error. Remember: customer relationships are fueled by affirmation, attention and care.

And, Keep it Simple

Customers don’t require a lot of fanfare and froufrou to know they are important. In fact, organizations that overcomplicate service spend more time maintaining their processes than focusing on their customers. Simplicity means removing all the hassle from the customer’s experience. It requires taking an “empathy walk” in order to view the entire service experience through the customer’s eyes. It means focusing on the customer’s goal, not just on their literal request.

Steve Little in his book The Milkshake Moment opens with a story of his pet peeve. Steve travels a 100+ days a year. After a long day of flight delays, taxi cabs, and hotel check-in challenges, he likes to reward himself with a late evening vanilla milkshake. Sometimes, the hotel can accommodate his appeal. But, half the time his polite request gets stopped by a room service clerk who says: “We don’t have vanilla milkshakes on the menu.” He follows the rebuff by asking if the kitchen has milk, vanilla ice cream, a tall glass, a spoon, and a blender nearby. Almost always the hotel restaurant has everything needed for Steve’s long awaited reward. Steve even suggests, “Charge me whatever you think is fair.” Yet, his literal request runs straight into the rules and procedures, while his real goal goes unmet.

What are ways you can make your new customers feel super important? Are you addressing their key concerns early and in a fashion that reflects authenticity and confidence? Are providing customers with easy ways to communicate with you? Are you providing a back-up plan in case they cannot reach you? Is the process simple and uncluttered with rules and procedures? Great customer service is not “rocket surgery!” It’s simply focusing on what’s important to customers, letting them know they are valued, and carefully managing the details to keep the experience simple.

Thank you, Hazel, for being a great example of service that is simply the best!

Chip Bell
Chip R. Bell is the founder of the Chip Bell Group ( and a renowned keynote speaker and customer loyalty consultant. Dr. Bell has authored several best-selling books including The 9 1/2 Principles of Innovative Service and, with John Patterson, Take Their Breath Away. His newest book, Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service, will be released in February.


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