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Service is a verb

This post is the eighth in a series that will identify 10 different customer service advantages that have emerged from my analysis of customer satisfaction data. Maybe you have capitalized on one or more of these advantages in your own business? The eighth advantage is to consider service a verb.

Have you ever heard someone in a committed relationship say that he or she no longer loves the other person? When questioned, he might say, “I’ve tried. Really I have. But the love just isn’t there.”

It’s no wonder the love isn’t there—because love (the noun) is a result of love (the verb). In the absence of demonstrating love for another person, there’s only a relationship—an association, an existence together. Heck, I have that type of relationship with my mailman.

In a committed relationship, it’s insufficient to view love as a noun—a mercurial feeling that vacillates between satisfied and unsatisfied.

Love must be demonstrated. Love requires action. Love is a verb.

It’s the same with customer service. Too many service providers view service as a noun—a role, function or department. As a result, customer service is objectified and lifeless.

Last year, I met a friend for lunch who oversees the training of 4,500 call center employees for a Fortune 100 company. He mentioned that call center employees are required to express empathy during phone calls pertaining to warranty or other repairs. He said that if an employee simply repeats the customer’s problem back to her, then that would satisfy the requirement to express empathy during a call audit.

In other words, if a customer calls in and says, “My washing machine stopped working” then all the employee would have to say is, “I’m sorry to hear that your washing machine stopped working” in order to receive full credit for expressing empathy.

My friend was not satisfied with this protocol and is working to change it. He proposed that genuine empathy might look more like a call center employee detecting a crying baby in the background and saying, “I hear a crying baby in the background. Would you like me to look into the availability of a service appointment for tomorrow and call you back in a few minutes?”

Service must be demonstrated. Service requires action. Service is a verb.

Going through the motions, whether in a committed relationship or with a customer, will result in a routine, predictable, and lifeless association. This opens the door for a competitor…

Do not view service as a noun. Do not see “serving customers” as performing a role or function—whether or not it involves a script, checklist or a requirement to “express empathy.”

Service, like love, is a verb. As such, it requires action and effort. It must be demonstrated.

When done well—consistently, with genuine care and concern—you will make a lasting positive impression and ensure that your “customer” will only have eyes for you.

What are some ways that you actively demonstrate service to your customers?

Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.
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