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Providing Superior Customer Service [Case Studies]

breaking the rules for customer serviceSuperior customer service can help businesses retain customers, avoid those nasty online complaints, and differentiate themselves from their competitors. Sounds good, right?

So why is customer service consistently so bad at so many companies? 

Superior customer service isn’t about long-winded policies addressing every possible reason why you can’t help. It’s also not about scripted responses to frequently asked questions or making your customers navigate a voicemail system for 20 minutes with the hopes of speaking to an actual human being.

Thanks to the story about the Comcast customer service call from hell that has been making the rounds recently, we all know what can happen when your policies and training are focused on the wrong things.

Not a way to win hearts, minds, or cable customers. Or anything else for that matter.

Which leads me to this example of superior customer service involving Capital One, some spilled orange juice, and a broken keyboard. If you haven’t heard the story, I definitely encourage you to check it out. It’s guaranteed to make you rethink your views on customer service and how you handle customer issues.

According to the article, a Capital One customer complained on Reddit about not being able to pay his bills on time because he spilled orange juice on his keyboard.

Instead of focusing on hitting him with late fees, sending him nasty notices, or arguing over why he couldn’t use a different computer--they sent him a new keyboard along with a personalized handwritten note.

The keyboard retails for around $69. The handwritten note probably took a few minutes. Add a few dollars for shipping and you just created a remarkable customer service experience and a ton of free buzz that’s led to a lot of really positive articles and blog posts—including this one.

It’s easy to assume the worst when it comes to customer service and spend all of your time anticipating every possible negative scenario and to come up with reasons why you can’t accommodate a request and at the very least--let them know they’ve been heard. But that leads to a lot of wasted calories and a lot of frustrated customers.

Companies known for superior customer service like Zappos, Nordstrom, or thanks to the keyboard story—Capital One, focus on empowering their employees to use their judgment to identify opportunities for random acts of kindness. It doesn’t have to be a keyboard—it can be a handwritten note, a follow up phone call, or giving extra effort to find a solution to their problem.

I think we’d all agree random acts of customer service kindness are always better than being associated with a customer service call from hell (complete with an audio transcript).

What companies do you think of when it comes to providing superior customer service and why? Share your thoughts and comments below.

[Image: Flickr user me and the sysop]

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