Five Points for Perfecting Customer Interactions

Recently I sent an email inquiry to two organizations of varying sizes from which I had an interest in their services. Both responded to my emails in a timely manner. The message from one organization was personal, robust with information, and warm. It was written by a specific individual, or perhaps generated to look like it was, and included all the trappings you would expect in polished, professional correspondence.

The other organization replied with two-sentences that did the absolute bare minimum to address the nature of my inquiry. Moreover, the message came across as terse and, frankly, cold – lacking even a salutation or a proper signature. It was off-putting on its own, but even more so given the context of the other reply.

In my book The Zappos Experience – 5 Principles to Inspire, Engage, and Wow , I share a story about a Zappos employee who took a customer service call that lasted over seven hours. That employee recounted this experience by saying “If I serve well, sales will take care of themselves.” Indeed. People who genuinely believe this tend to build legendary brands. Aaron Magness, former Sr. Director of Brand Marketing & Business Development at Zappos, remarked “It’s sad how a little bit of genuine care can make the difference between horrible service and amazing service. If companies thought more about interaction and less about transaction, people would flock to them.”

Now, let’s step back into the reality of most small or mid-size businesses. Do you or does anyone on your team have upwards of seven hours to devote to one customer interaction? Likely not, nor am I proposing this be your litmus test to determine if you are delivering perfect service.

Zappos leadership developed a true feedback model for evaluating their employees who interact with customers. The key components assessed are:

Greeting – Did you introduce yourself by name?

Personal emotional connection – Does your communication embody helpfulness, patience, sincerity, genuineness?

Service – What is the degree to which the customers’ needs are satisfied? Were multiple solutions offered?

Seeking/supplying information – Was there an accurate collection of necessary information from the customer and verification that the information given was correct?

Conclusion – Did you review what was discussed? Is it possible to offer a perk?

The beauty of this assessment process is that it emphasizes quality in basic service execution as well as areas geared to forging the personal emotional connection, delivering wow, and leaving customers feeling happy – the stuff of legendary companies.

You may be responsible for training a large team of customer service professionals or just need a simple “am I missing anything?” self-check before replying to a customer inquiry. Use these five points as a rubric to ensure you are optimizing every opportunity to communicate with your customers. Bonus? It will take you far less than seven hours to do.

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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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