Eight Ways to Immediately Improve Your Customer Service For Little or No Money!

Have you joined my incredibly non-annoying, once-in-a-while email newsletter?

It’s SO the little things. In a future blog post, I’ll be talking about the wonderful experience that is GroundLink. But as I was taking a GrounLink car to JFK this morning, it got me thinking about why I loved them so much – And I realized that yet again, it’s the little things. Here’s a list of eight things you can do RIGHT NOW, for little or no cost, that will improve your customer service, get your customers happier than they’ve ever been, and get them talking about you to all of their friends!

8) Know your audience. This is one of the easiest, yet most forgotten things in customer service. Imagine being able to talk to your audience about things that relate directly to them when they walk into your store, or contact you for an order? It’s not hard. With the level of sharing we’re all subjected to on a daily basis, a simple Google alert on your best customers, or a perusal of a Twitter account should give you a basic insight into what’s up in their world. Mind you, I said a quick perusal. There’s a fine line between “taking an interest,” and “being the creepy stalker who works at Staples.”

7) Being early is a trait of those who excel in customer service. I had a car for 8am this morning. At 7:26am, I get a text that my Groundlink car is on the way, and at 7:39, I get another text that it’s downstairs waiting for me. 20 minutes early, just chilling. When I get downstairs at 7:50, the car is there, I’m calm, relaxed, without that “where the hell is he, I’m going to miss my flight” stress that we get when the time comes and there’s no car. Can you do the same? Can you deliver a project before deadline? Can you auto-upgrade shipping for your customers without charging them extra? Zappos does… Focus on ways to make things happen quicker.

6) Something unexpected. You know what was in my car when I got in this morning? A bottle of water. Simplest thing in the world. They probably buy them in bulk for $5 for 20 bottles. But it was there, and it was available to me, no charge. That little bottle of water made me so happy. I hydrated ,and felt just a little bit better when I arrived at JFK. Good luck getting a bottle of water in a taxi. What little things can you do? I bought a Keurig machine for my office/apartment, and some funky flavored coffees. People actually ask to have meetings at my apartment because they never know what kind of cool coffee they’re going to get. I once knew a CEO who went to Africa each year to bring back 30 pounds of a specific type of coffee bean, but he never told anyone where they could get it. His reasoning? “Maybe they remember where they had the great coffee, and maybe they come back for more, and maybe we do some business.” (Say that in a Yiddish accent, it sounds much funnier.) But he was right. What unexpected things can you do?

5) Stop nickel and diming. Airlines are terrible at this. They quote you a fare of like, $99 dollars to go somewhere, right? But then, that’s each way, and that doesn’t include taxes, tariffs, boarding fees, baggage fees, lubrication fees (for the TSA Anal Probes) and other fees. Total on a $198 round trip? $445.50. How is that good customer service? It’s not. What can you include for no additional cost? Batteries? Ink? Toner? Spare parts? Free transfers? What can you include and call it “a good karma inclusion” or something like that?

4) Can you help someone in a way that’s out of the ordinary? We all know what Morton’s did for me last summer… But what else can you do? I’ve heard stories of restaurants picking people up and driving them to their establishment when a customers’ car died. I’ve heard other stories of companies doing things completely random – A hotel in San Francisco called a hotel in NYC to get the bellman there to deliver flowers to a San Francisco guest’s wife who wasn’t feeling well in NYC. Remember: Simple things are expected. Amazing things get remembered.

3) Don’t be afraid to do something truly incredible! I once heard of a company that makes metal pipes – One of their corporate customers had come in to discuss a new order. While they were there, they mentioned to the owner that they had to take a trip overseas because their plant was having some kind of problem. Turns out, the metal pipe company also had a plant overseas, pretty close to the customer’s plant. The owner of the metal pipe company was able to send his technicians over to the customer’s company and fix the problem, saving the customer a $10,000 trip and a week of his life. How loyal do you think that customer is now?

2) Give your customers the tools to tell your story! There’s a restaurant in the mid-west that has an iPad attached to the bar by the take-out order station. When someone comes in to wait for their food, they’re offered a chance to play with the iPad for free. They’re also told that if they log onto Facebook and “like” the restaurant’s page, they’ll get a free appetizer, right then and there. The company then thanks each and every customer on Facebook, and asks how they like their appetizer. It’s a no-brainer, works so easily, and, perhaps most importantly, as Facebook starts to ramp up “Places” and “Offers,” Facebook will become the de facto standard for customer experience stories – Why wouldn’t you want to help facilitate growth and excitement when the customer is there, in your store, and willing to be talked to? Easiest thing in the world.

1) It has to start from the top down. CEOs can’t run a company from a corner office. It simply doesn’t work. For a company to truly embrace radical ways of handling customer service, the entire corporation has to get in on it. I’ve heard stories of CEOs driving to a customer’s home with a part or an order, because it came in after hours. I once heard of a CEO who happened to be in the building on a Saturday, and answered the phone – The call was a random customer complaining about something. The CEO took the call, and got a resolution in 20 minutes – On a Saturday! You know the customer told the world about that.

What can you do that’s different, over the top, and inexpensive? Let me know in the comments, and as always, thanks for reading. 🙂

Join the discussion One Comment

Leave a Reply