There’s a common belief that delivery of outstanding customer service is as simple as “treating customers as I would like to be treated.” The flaw with this, of course, is when a customer comes along who prefers to be treated differently than you. A more effective strategy is to treat customers the way in which they would like to be treated.

Customer service isn’t a static thing. The expectations customers have vary from industry to industry and situation to situation. Sometimes they want guidance, sometimes they just want an unobstructed path, and sometimes they want their hands held through the entire interaction. That’s why generic service standards are rarely useful, and why off-the-shelf customer service training doesn’t stick. Too often we think of customer service as just ‘common sense;’ but if it really was, it would be a much more common practice.

So, how can you define World-Class Customer Service for your business? Start by asking yourself these four questions:

1. What are your customer’s current expectations in your industry?

2. What are the complaints/issues that are common in your industry? What needs to happen to make those go away?

3. When people talk about positive experiences in your industry, what do they talk about?

4. What role does customer service play in your business? Is it customer retention, increased sales, decreased escalations, higher productivity, lower staff turnover? Why is it important?

Once you have an answer to these, you can begin the process of defining your ideal customer experience, and the things that need to be addressed to deliver it.

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