This was my response:
Let’s start with a definition:
Customer service is a voluntary act that demonstrates a genuine desire to satisfy, if not delight, a customer.
Within this definition are seven elements that are key to consistently providing exceptional customer service:
- Voluntary: Exceptional customer service is predicated on a service provider’s willingness to take initiative and expend discretionary effort in the moment of choice.
- Act: Service is a verb, requiring action.
- Demonstrates: Exceptional customer service reflects job essence, a service provider’s highest priority at work, in words and actions.
- Genuine: Exceptional customer service is authentic. Service providers do not mask their true feelings; they actualize them.
- Desire: Service providers must want to deliver exceptional customers service. While there are things they have to do (job functions), delivering exceptional customer service isn’t one of them. You can’t force an employee to provide exceptional customer service any more than you can force a customer to be loyal.
- Satisfy, if not delight: Attempting to delight customers by exceeding their expectations in every case is exhausting and unsustainable. In everyday service situations, most customers simply want to be acknowledged, appreciated, and have their expectations met.
- Customer: The purpose of a business is to create a customer who keeps creating more customers through referrals, testimonials, and positive reviews.
The opposite of exceptional customer service is not poor customer service; it’s indifferent customer service. This occurs when service providers simply execute job functions (within a transactional, process-focused work environment), disconnected from job purpose, treating each customer like the previous customer until the end of another boring and monotonous shift.
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