I was at a shopping centre over the weekend and dropped by a store in the food court to grab coffee and something to eat.
Stuck to the counter next to the register, facing the server, was a laminated sheet of paper titled “Our Extreme Customer Service Policy“. Under it were 4 simple points:
- Quality Product
- Friendly Smile
When you put it all together, it’s basically saying serve the customer exactly what they want in the fastest and friendliest way possible. Which to me seems a bare minimum.
So while I understand the intent was to reinforce good customer service practice, would these things be considered “extreme” customer service, or are they just the core tenets of service? Granted, the example of a coffee shop is different to digital business, I think it paints an interesting picture of how businesses perceive the expectations of the customer.
Customer Expectations Have Changed
There is no doubt that the expectations of customers are now extreme compared to where they were 10, or even 5 years ago. The technology we now have for them to communicate with us has seen barriers removed and timeframes dramatically shortened.
A recent study from Lithium Technologies indicated that 43% of people expect a response to an online query in the space of an hour, and 14% of them want it in 5 minutes or less! This is where tech has raised the expectations.
So while they are extreme compared to where they have been in the past, it’s also the new normal, because we now won’t settle for the old level of service.
Using the word “extreme” to define a customer service policy is incorrect. What you’re seeking is consistently high, because the heightened expectation is now the baseline.
The policies and processes you have around how you support customers should make amazing service a rule rather than an exception.