Are you service-centric?

Previously, I’ve shared 4 customer interaction strategies that businesses either consciously or inadvertently deploy. Those strategies are product-centric, service-centric, customer-centric, and customer-adaptive. I hope I communicated that whichever strategy you choose is less important than how effectively you execute it. I will skip over product-focused business strategies and begin with a service-centric approach.

Does your service compete or exceed that given by your competition? Here’s an even harder question. How do you know if your service is as good as you said in response to my last question? One last inquiry, how consistently do you deliver extraordinary service? As you contemplate these questions, let’s examine what exceptional service involves. From my world view, extraordinary service occurs when you fulfill a customer need in ways that are:
1) Relevant: giving the customer what the customer cares about right now
2) Easy and Consistent: reliable and painless the first time, every time, and across all channel s
3) Speedy: it respects your customer’s time, and
4) Secure: it protects your customer and their data

Quality guru W. Edwards Deming said, “It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do and THEN do your best.” Do your people know what they need to do to deliver relevant, easy, consistent, speedy and secure service? Service-centric businesses make service excellence known and measure service outcomes.

Let me give an example from time I’ve spent at Zappos – a premier service-focused internet shoe fulfillment company. In fact, Zappos’ tagline is “powered by service.” At the Zappos call center, staff who are called customer loyalty team members, aren’t measured on sales volume. Instead they are encouraged to handle a call to the resolution of a customer need. They are even encouraged to send callers to an alternative site if the product is not in inventory. In essence, the Zappos customer loyalty team member can say, “I can’t find what you want in our stock but I did locate it at I can help you find your item on their website – so you can purchase it yourself.” Now that’s service!

Zappos customer loyalty staff are also not measured on how many calls they handle in an hour. They are measured on how quickly they get back on the line with the next customer. Zappos leadership can answer the question of how good their service is through data they derive from weekly audits of calls received by their staff. Leaders will audit one of call per week at random for each call-center worker and in that call they will look for whether the employee established rapport with the customer, whether the employee accurately communicated and followed policies, if the employee resolved the issue for the customer and did so to create a wow for the customer such as the manner in which they infused life and joy into the message they shared with a customer about upgrading the speed of shipping.

One last way leaders at Zappos can answer the question of how good their service is comes through survey data. After each call received at the call center the customer is sent an email survey. There are three basic questions in the survey – the first two of which are measured on 0-10 scale:

1) How likely are you to recommend Zappos to a friend of family’ member?
2) During your last interaction with us, you contacted a member of our customer loyalty team, if you had your own company that was focused on service, how likely would you be to hire our person to work for you?
3) A qualitative question that asks, if you had one thing that Zappos could do to improve on what we did today, what would it be?’

So if you are service oriented, how are YOU doing and how do stack up to companies like Zappos?

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

1 Comment

  1. Jon on December 3, 2009 at 1:37 pm


    It was my pleasure to show you around the offices! I’m glad that you had a good day here! Thank you for the great post. It’s amazing the difference it can make to offer great service (for both the employees and the customers!!)


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