The Church Of Customer Service

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For whatever reason I have worked with a number of customers over the last week that had unique circumstances that made resolution of their issues both challenging and time consuming. As an avid runner, those are the situations that stick in my head and I usually have to sort out while I’m sweating.

On one particular run it finally hit me. 95% of customer interactions are easy and routine. Those customers typically don’t need much more than one small favor or just an expert to help them find a link or feature they couldn’t find on their own. It’s the other 5% that require hours of attention in order to be able to use the service. If you don’t immediately know who the 5% are then you are either really ignorant, you rush those customers off the phone hoping you never get their call again or you are really, really good at customer service and can wow even those customers without breaking a sweat.

I am convinced that those 5% of customers separate the great customer service professionals from the others. The fact that I am aware of the 5% means that I know those customers well and it’s sometimes hit or miss as to whether I want to take the time to wow them.

You may be curious as to why I called this post “The Church of Customer Service.” To give you a little bit about my background, I come from a long line of pastors. My dad, grandfather and great grandfather are/were all pastors. I often refer to it as the family business. One thing about church is that it is a hot bed for the 5%. You don’t have to search very far before you find someone that has baggage or needs special attention. Admit it or not, you have baggage and I have baggage. We are all messed up.

In the same way, there is a laundry list of baggage that customers will bring to the table when they interact with customer service. Some customers may have disabilities that make the interaction challenging, others may present a language barrier and finally others who don’t realize they have baggage spew their negative lack of self awareness all over the place. Those are my favorite!

If we are really going to WOW customers and be a customer-centric organization, the challenge is clear. We have to figure out how to consistently WOW the 5%.

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