November 27, 2022

Small Business Advice

The Customer Service Experience: A Holistic Approach

Jerry Osteryoung | 6/18/2007

Do not be desirous of having things done quickly. Do not look at small advantages. Desire to have things done quickly prevents their being done thoroughly. Looking at small advantages prevents great affairs from being accomplished.
— Confucius

It is great to have a super advertising campaign. Advertising is a very effective way to attract new customers into your business. However, you must make sure that the advertising message you deliver is congruent with the customer service experience you provide alongside your product or service.

I was dealing with a firm that had a very slick and expensive advertising company. This advertising company developed a campaign touting the firm’s great customer service with a number of customer testimonials. The ads were super, and since many new customers came in as a result, the campaign was considered a great success.

The rest of the story, however, was not quite as successful. When the customers came in they found that the glowing report given in the ads was anything but accurate. They found sales clerks who thought that servicing the customer was not important, and they had to wait in the checkout line so long that many of them put their products back on the shelves and left the store. Many of the new customers the ads brought in walked out of the stores vowing never to return.

While there are many issues here, the critical one is customer service. It is just not good enough to say that you want all of your staff to smile at customers. Rather, you must clearly define what you want the entire customer service experience to be.

Think of customer service as one overall experience that consists of a series of smaller tasks. Look at your customer service experience in a holistic fashion and then develop a process to create the product you desire. The only way to deliver a great customer service experience is to have a vision of what it should look like in its totality.

For example, say you define the total customer service experience as the great feeling that you want each customer to have when leaving. Having defined the customer service experience in this manner, you know that you must emphasize creating great final impressions for the customer.

However, say you want your customers to feel like royalty from the time they arrive to the time they leave. This customer service experience requires a much more detailed approach. Each customer touch must be outstanding.

What I have found to be useful in getting entrepreneurs through this process is having them close their eyes and just imagine what they would like their customer service experience to be. I then ask them to use feeling words like “wonderful” or “fantastic” to describe what they have imagined.

The point is to develop a description of the type of customer service experience the entrepreneur wants. Once they have this, they can easily ascertain the steps necessary to accomplish this desired experience.

You can do this!

Jerry Osteryoung is the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship in the College of Business at Florida State University. He is also the Director of the Entrepreneurship Program at FSU and Executive Director of the Jim Moran Institute of Global Entrepreneurship. He can be reached by e-mail at jostery@comcast.net or by phone at 850-644-3372.

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