You don’t need to be a jerk to give bad customer service. (Here’s why.)


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Great customer service –what I call anticipatory customer service — requires more these days than simply not being a jerk and not hiring jerks. It means building your non-jerk attitude into systems, facilities, and processes.

Traditionally, great customer service has meant selecting and training employees to work empathetically one on one with customers, anticipating “even the unexpressed wishes” of those customers, to use the Ritz-Carlton’s lovely phrase.

But we’re now well into the 21st century, and there’s more required to provide great customer service. While the right people are still central to delivering great service, it’s also important to align systems and technology with customers’ desires—even before these desires are voiced.

Let me illustrate with a story adapted from my new book, High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service (click link if you’d like a free chapter).

A dusting of snow left my January flight on Southwest Airlines grounded for a couple hours on the Philadelphia (PHL) tarmac. Not surprisingly, this made me too late for my connection in Denver. So, I stepped off the plane in Denver, thinking I was going to need to wait in an endless line and plead my case for a rebooking, or call the 800 number and wait on endless hold.

But immediately, I was met on the jetway by a gate agent from Southwest with a sheaf of already rebooked tickets in hand. She asked my name and then handed me a ticket with my name on it—for the very next available flight to my destination.

This didn’t happen because an empathetic gate agent spontaneously decided to print out these boarding passes. It happened because empathetic people working at Southwest realized that 99+% of the people on the late-arriving plane would want to be rebooked on the next flight out of there. And they therefore designed the process to make this happen, without a single passenger even needing to make a request.

© 2012 Micah Solomon, author of High-Tech, High-Touch Customer Service

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Micah Solomon
Micah Solomon is a customer service consultant and trainer who works with companies to transform their level of customer service and customer experience. The author of five books, his expertise has been featured in Forbes, Fast Company, NBC and ABC television programming, and elsewhere. "Micah Solomon conveys an up-to-the minute and deeply practical take on customer service, business success, and the twin importance of people and technology." –Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder.


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