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Tell Me What I Don’t Want to Hear; A Key Part of Building Continuous Excellent Customer Service

One of the myths about building a company with excellent customer service is that you should strive to have “zero defects.” In reality, the list of perfect organizations is as short as the list of perfect people. There are no entries on either list. Since you cannot be perfect, you can do the next best thing: your company can be better than any of your competitors at facing up to and dealing with quality problems and mistakes.

This is not a one-time project with a defined result. It has to be an ongoing process that contains something that goes against our basic human nature: developing an appetite for bad news or the desire to be told what you do not want to hear. We all like praise. Being appreciated and understood is something that can make our day. But, we do not get better with praise. A leader must desire to hear the bad news if he hopes to improve his organization. We get better when we find out what we are doing wrong and then fix it fairly and promptly. In fact turning around a bad customer service experience can create people who become “converts.” This means you have met their low expectations, exceeded them and showed them that you back up what you say. Your company shows that it can be trusted. And, isn”t trust a fundamental building block of customer relationships?

There are too many elements in putting all this into place to fit in this space. Just in case you think the idea sounds nice, but think, “what does it really mean?”, remember this: there is hard data that proves that companies that have higher customer service ratings than their competitors are 10-50% more profitable than those competitors. So survey your customers regularly. Establish benchmarks of your service quality, get everyone in the company on board with ongoing improvements and keep it going. Excellent service isn”t just a good idea, it”s good business.