Technology is an incredibly powerful tool for managing your customer service operation. Still, no matter how well designed your automation, how thorough your knowledge base, or how clever your ticket deflection, technology will never erase the need for a genuine human touch.
If you want to set your brand apart from all the others, keep reading.
Second Mile Service
Several years ago, I attended a leadership conference in Atlanta. One of the speakers was Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A—that blessed fried chicken franchise peppered across the southern U.S.
Of all Cathy had to say, the most important concept was this: second-mile service.
This three-word encapsulation of Chick-fil-A’s customer service mindset comes straight out of the Bible: “And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles” (Matt 5:41, English Standard Version).
If it was good enough for Jesus, then it should be good enough for a fried chicken joint, right?
What does that look like in a Chick-fil-A restaurant? It looks like smiles all around, employees who are legitimately pleased to serve you, managers wandering the restaurant offering refills, and generous community outreach.
It also looks like a fast food franchise that consistently outperforms its competitors in sales, all while keeping its doors shut one full day every week.
Going the Second Mile Digitally
“That may work great for a fast food joint, but what’s it got to do with my online business?”
That’s a fantastic question. Thankfully for you, second-mile service, as a concept applies across a broad spectrum of businesses—both physical and digital.
Here are three simple ways to inject a second-mile mindset into your customer service operation.
Make Customers Your Priority
Hanging with the dining theme for just one more moment… I’ve spent about a third of my life working in and around restaurants. The best ones I worked for all had one thing in common: we were trained to treat customers as welcome guests and never as an inconvenience.
Think about your last customer service experience. Was the representative happy to talk with you or did it feel more like you were imposing yourself on their precious time? What would it have felt like if they gave you all the time and attention they would a guest in their own home?
Now turn this back around on your customer service team. Do your people legitimately see each customer request as a genuine opportunity to serve?
If not, then it’s time to start working on your team’s mindset. The kind of service that goes the extra mile for people—the kind that makes you stand out amongst your competitors—can only happen when your team is ready to make customer satisfaction their highest priority.
Ask Better Questions
There’s always a question behind the question your customers initially ask.
Let’s say you’re selling customer relationship management (CRM) software and a customer calls you because they’re can’t figure out how to export email addresses. The problem seems simple; ask a few questions, provide a few tips, and send the customer on their way.
Suppose, on the other hand; you invest 5-10 additional minutes with this customer. What could you learn about their business? What goals might you uncover? Take it a step further and suppose you were able to identify a few fundamental missteps they were making with your software and you were able to coach them up to a higher and better use of the CRM.
By asking better questions and providing more effective solutions, you can easily turn your users up into superusers. Sure, it’ll take a little more time and training for your staff, but these kinds of encounters and the organic brand advocacy they breed are worth their weight in gold.
When was the last time a customer service representative reached out to you a week or two after your first contact just to check up? Has that ever happened to you?
If you're in business, then you're constantly looking for ways to distinguish yourself from your competitors. So, why not do something crazy (and distinctive!) like have your customer service representatives reach out personally to follow up with customers after.
I’m not talking about an automated customer service satisfaction survey. Instead, have a real human being from your team either send a message on the forum, reply to a comment on a Facebook post, send an email, or even pick up the phone.
Second-mile service is exactly like it sounds: you take whatever someone asks you for and give them back twice as much. That doesn’t mean, however, that you need to put twice as much energy into the exchange. With the right ticket deflection systems in place, you can marry automation and human interaction without overrunning your limited CS resources.
Don’t try to snake by with the minimum. Go the extra mile and start writing customer service stories that your customers will be excited to tell.
How are you going the extra mile for your customers? Leave us a comment below.