Quality Customer Service Does Exist
November 12, 2008
I just had what I would consider an unusual customer service experience. Why unusual? Because it surprised me--it was a positive experience--and the person gave me more than I asked for. This to me is the absolute definition of over deliver and under promise.
I was in the market for a flip video camcorder and “Googled” it. Then I went to the various sites comparison shopping. I found a site that was easy to navigate and had the best price. And they had an 800 number to call which I did. I was going out of the country 10 days later and wanted to know when it would ship, which carrier, and where it was coming from to be sure I received it before my trip.
The customer service agent answered each of my questions to my satisfaction. When I asked whether I should order it online or with her, I expected her to say it was quite easy to order online. Instead she said she could take care of everything.
When it became apparent that I was a new customer (because she asked me), she told me she was going to overnight the product to me, at no extra charge. I was shocked. Ground shipping was free which was one of the reasons I chose that site. However, overnight was not. But because I mentioned I needed it soon and because I was a new customer, she said she would overnight it to me and I would have it the next day.
That has never happened to me before! Very impressive. I felt very taken care of by this customer service agent, and therefore, by the company.
Subsequently, coincidence being what it is, I read an article in the September/October 2008 issue of America’s Best. This is not a magazine I normally subscribe to but I was interviewed for this issue on the psychology of customer service. Whenever I am interviewed, I always request several copies of the publication.
The article I read spoke about this same company I’m writing about. When asked the question, “How do your associates put such an emphasis on customer service?” they responded by saying they’ve come up with a creative way to hire employees and ensure their dedication to customer service through their training program. Their emphasis is on creating a culture of fun and a little weirdness.
What impressed me was their philosophy. Once hired, these employees go through a vigorous two week training process. Nothing new here, right?
Here’s what is different (or at least the first time I’m heard of this): new hires are presented with an “offer” after they complete the training.
The company offers them $2000 to quit right then and there. For those who don’t, it speaks to their passion for customer service and commitment to the culture and company. How many take the offer? Only one to two percent do take the offer.
This company has learned a number of things. One being that there is a direct correlation between the customer service associates and their customers. As a matter of fact, this is key to their success. And my experience noted above supports their (and my) contention.
By separating the wheat from the chaff, you actually save money on labor which is your highest budget item. When you train employees and they leave during the first year (which statistically is the case), it’s a high cost. By allowing them to option out and offering them an incentive to do so, those that stay are going to be your best employees and your turnover rates will tumble (which is a good thing).
Because this was such a refreshingly great experience for me, I will answer the question I hear you all asking, “What company is it, Rosanne?” Its Zappos.
ROSANNE D'AUSILIO, Ph.D., an industrial psychologist, consultant, master trainer, best selling author, executive coach, customer service expert, and President of Human Technologies Global, Inc., specializes in human performance management. Over the last 23 years, she has provided needs analyses, instructional design, and customized, live customer service skills trainings as well as executive/leadership coaching. Also offered is agent and facilitator university certification through Purdue University’s (News - Alert) Center for Customer Driven Quality.
Known as 'the practical champion of the human,' she authors best sellers “Wake Up Your Call Center: Humanize Your Interaction Hub,” 4th ed, “Customer Service and the Human Experience,” “Lay Your Cards on the Table: 52 Ways to Stack Your Personal Deck (includes a 32-card deck of cards)—motivational and inspirational readings, How to Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch: 101 Insider Tips and hot off the press How to Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch: ANOTHER 101 Insider Tips (http://www.customer-service-expert.com) as well as her popular complimentary ‘tips’ newsletter on How To Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch! available at http://www.HumanTechTips.com
Rosanne is also a Certified Call Center Benchmarking Auditor through Purdue University's Center for Customer Driven Quality. This certification training focuses on the access and use of key performance data to help better understand benchmarking results so as to advise on practical solutions for improvement.
For 10 years prior to starting her own organization, Rosanne had responsibility for marketing, budgeting, promoting and ultimately producing domestic and international computerized trade shows in the US, London, Belgium, and Frankfurt. She inaugurated, created, trained and directed a telemarketing on-site staff and was one of the first 150 people to attain CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) certification.
She is a columnist for TMCnet.com and Ask the Expert at supportindustry.com. She represents the human element on the Advisory Board of an Italian software company, authors numerous articles for industry newsletters, and is a much sought after dynamic, vibrant, internationally prominent keynote speaker.
Rosanne D'Ausilio, industrial psychologist and president of Human Technologies Global, writes the Call Center Training column for TMCnet. To read more of Rosanne's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Michelle Robart