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October 2007

What's Your Secret Service?

A few weeks ago at the Gazelles Sales and Marketing Summit in Atlanta, I heard John DiJulius, author of Secret Service: Hidden Systems that Deliver Unforgettable Customer Service, share his secrets.  John believes that, "the better the service, the less price becomes an issue.  Any time a customer complains about price, it's because of a service defect.  Service is what you do to build brand loyalty."

Here are some of his ideas:

Establish non-negotiable operational and experiential standards for your company. While operational standards are executed behind the scenes (and include such items as cleanliness, dress code, and store lighting), the experiential standards, as executed by you and your employees, are what really make the customers say, "WOW!"  These experiential standards might include knowing the customer’s name, company history, personal history and shopping preferences.  Hire the right people carefully. Have a customer service aptitude test to screen employment candidates.

Have ways to distinguish between new, existing, and VIP customers.  Treat the customers differently, not better. Make sure that you can recognize the TOP customers.  Use a database to keep track of each customer’s transaction and what was learned from that customer’s experience.

Create an 'above and beyond' service culture.  Make sure you understand that with regard to customer service, "the answer is YES, now what is the question?"

It started me thinking about my own experience as a customer as well as what my customers experience when they interact with my business.  I can tell you that I have some horror stories and some uplifting stories in both categories.

I'd be interested in hearing about your own best and worst experiences as a customer.