Beyond Good Intentions – Keys to Executing for Customers

Most people want to serve customers well.

However, service intentions often break down as customers seek to get their needs met. Here’s an example that a reader shared with me regarding a breakdown

During a service request to get a propane gas tank filled, a well-intentioned utility company team member said she would “try” to have someone deliver the fuel later in the week. Try as they might – no one showed up for weeks to come. Feeling overlooked, the customer reached out to another team member at the utility, who explained: “Your order came at a hectic time and must not have been processed.” No apology, just an inference that the customer should have called at a better time.

Ultimately a service provider showed up and completed the transaction without issue. That visit was followed by a call asking about the customer’s experience. The first question in the follow-up was, “How satisfied were you with the service?” After receiving a 4 out of 10, the caller asked how likely the customer was to recommend them. After another score of 4, the caller didn’t ask for any follow-up information before thanking the customer and ending the call.

This example illustrates the chasm between a company’s positive service intentions and the reality of its delivery.

Here are a few service reminders that I hope you glean from this experience (and similar ones you’ve undoubtedly encountered):

  1. Communication is Key: Clear, consistent communication is vital in managing customer expectations and resolving issues.
  2. Trying is Not Doing – Commit to what you will do, not what you will “try” to do.
  3. Be Proactive – Don’t make your customer follow up and let them know about issues before they have to ask.
  4. Apologies Matter: An honest acknowledgment of service failures and a sincere apology go a long way in preserving customer relationships.
  5. Take Genuine Interest in Feedback: Feedback sessions should allow customers to share their experiences honestly – instead of being a checkbox task. The goal of feedback is insights – not numerical scores.
  6. Align Intentions with Execution: A company’s service intentions must align with actual service delivery to maintain trust, customer engagement, repeat business, and referrals.

I hope you take the time to examine your business processes in light of these reminders.

Specifically, are there areas where your intentions could be delivered more consistently, which might lead to customer dissatisfaction and mistrust?

To learn more about executing consistent service excellence, please contact me at

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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

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