Service Sound Bites in Stereo

The political season is upon us!  And, with a presidential debate every few days, candidates are getting plenty of opportunities to utter misspoken sound bites.  Under the pressure of cross examination and under the floodlight of the electorate’s pursuit of a secular messiah, perfection seems to have become the standard.  The winner is often less about the wisest debater and more about who did not make a mistake.  So, we get to hear a lot of Monday morning commentary on “what I really meant by that.”

Delivering service today seems a lot like running for public office.  Customers are picky and fickle.  They demand nothing less than outstanding value.  And, with a myriad of choices, it only takes a tiny hiccup to send them in hot pursuit of an alternative.  Perfection in service, just like perfection in debate, is impossible to sustain.  So, it requires a service provider that is quick to recognize they are being judged by customer perception and not by the facts.  Winning takes agility in spotting service issues and speed of recovery that fixes customer problems while repairing customer relationships.

Great service today also takes smart assessment of what customers really mean by their reproach or complaint.  It involves analyzing the trends of a service breakdown, not just the isolated incident.  It includes customer forensics on customers who left the fold to “vote” for another “candidate.”  Service is always delivered in stereo.  The results yield what customers say as well as what customers mean.  What steps are you taking to manage perceptions while repairing root causes.  Remember: service sounds bites are both signals and warnings.

About Chip&John

Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson are customer loyalty consultants and the authors of several best-selling books. Their newest book is "Wired and Dangerous: How Your Customers Have Changed and What to do About it."
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