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Five Steps In The Ultimate Customer Service Strategy

1. A clear vision of who you are and where you’re going (Westjet)

I don’t care if you’re Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2, if you don’t have a clear vision of who you are and where you are going, you have have no hope in hell of getting anywhere. If you are successful it’s purely out of luck. I love the quote from Alice in Wonderland:

Cheshire Cat - Alice in Wonderland

Make sure everyone in your organization knows what you stand for and where you are going as a company. Front line employees will do the right thing for customers if they believe in what your company is doing and what it is aspiring to be.

Think Westjet.westjet

How great is their service? Compared to the rest, pretty awesome, right? Don’t you get that feeling that they care just a little bit more than most other companies? Probably because they’re all owners. When you become a Westjet employee, you become an owner.

You want you employees to care about your vision and who you are as a company? Make them owners.

Who would want to be on a ship going nowhere? Who would want to work for a company going nowhere?

People with a purpose will do more, try harder, work smarter, all because they’re inspired. It’s your job to figure out how to do that.

2. Think proactive policy rather than reactive (Italian Star Deli or Nordstrom)Italian star deli

I wrote before about why a reactive customer service strategy is silly but it’s what most companies do. Not that it’s their fault, they just don’t know any better.

Start running your business like Carlos from the Italian Star Deli. Always happy to see you, quick service, and a delicious product. He goes out of his way to ensure every visit to his deli is a positive one. Very smart Carlos, very smart.

The smart companies are proactive.

Think Nordstrom.


For years the Nordstrom employee hand book but just a small cue card with just these words on it:

Welcome to Nordstrom We’re glad to have you with our Company. Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them. Nordstrom Rules: Rule #1: Use best judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules. Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division general manager any question at any time.
That’s trusting your employees a lot. But when trust is given away, it’s usually returned in multiples.


3. Inspire employees to feel empowered to delight the customer (Zappos)Zappos

At Zappos there’s no maximum amount of time someone is allowed to stay on the phone with a customer. They just have to use their best judgement, even if that’s staying on the phone for a record breaking 10 hours at one time. Zappos has been recognized as one of the best customer service companies in the world. They take the hiring of employees very seriously. They will even offer a new hire, once they’ve gone through the two weeks of training, $2,000 to quit. Yup, you read correctly. Zappos only wants employees who want to work there for the right reasons. Not just to make a paycheck, you can do that anywhere. At Zappos you’re empowered to make a difference.

4. It’s always the little things (Disney)

And you thought the ‘little things’ was just a Good Charlotte song, well my friends it’s far more thanWalt Disney World just a song. It’s the secret to your customer service strategy. The best companies don’t have major customer service initiatives. It’s never just a couple things they do. The best companies pay attention to the finest little, itty, bitty, detail and ensure your experience is as delightful as it would be if the President or CEO were present.

Disney has for a long time be regarded as one of the best at customer service. It’s not one single thing they do, it’s not even a couple delightful acts they perform. The reason Disney is so good is the paid attention to detail. It could be the 20,000 different colours of paint they use, or the small pipes  that shoot the trash through the receptacle network under the Magic Kingdom at 100 km/hour. Or the hundreds of “Mickey” images hidden throughout the park. They even put a small Mickey on the man hole covers. Now that’s paying attention to detail!

What small areas are you overlooking in your business where you could delight a customer?

5. A feedback mechanism (NPS) Ultimate Question 2.0

Finally to wrap up your complete customer service strategy you need some way to measure. For the  longest time we couldn’t measure what customers thought about us. Sure there were post purchase surveys and such but that just meant you knew how people who are willing to fill out a boring questionnaire felt about you. Really not valuable at all.

Then came along Net Promoter Score (NPS). It’s explained in the widely read and strikingly fascinating The Ultimate Question 2.0. The net promoter system helps companies assign a quantitative measurement to a qualitative part of your business. One of the most difficult things to do, measure the unmeasurable.

NPS works better than most questionnaires because three simple reasons:

  1. It’s only one question (with an optional followup question) so your customers are much more likely to fill it out.
  2. It shortens your feedback loop so you can adjust your strategy faster over time (those companies who learn the fastest will win)
  3. It’s so simple to administer that you can easily compare employees, business units, or franchises to each other to find anomalies more efficiently.

These can’t be the only five points en route to your completely transparent customer service strategy. What would you add? What have you experienced that makes customer service initiatives just that much better?  Do share in the comments below.

If you want to learn more about customer service check out:

27 Questions on Your Customer Service Strategy and tactics

More blog posts on Customer Service