I’ve been to a post office that was out of stamps, brought home the wrong number of sandwiches from the fast food drive-thru, had to wait 15 minutes to get a deli order placed, stood in line 4 deep with only 1 cashier open, couldn’t find an associate to help me at the cosmetic counter, was served nearly raw meat after ordering it well-done, waited more than 30 minutes for the cable guy to show up, dealt with snarky sales associates and waited ‘on hold’ for more than 20 minutes while listening to a recording about how important I am. These are just a few examples of what I have dubbed failing to deliver “Must Haves”.
Must Haves are basic needs that when not delivered will negatively impact the customer experience. Getting the Must Haves right requires efficient and effective processes that assure products and services are defect/error free, transactions are accurate and delivery is as promised. This is one of the most critical steps in delivering exceptional customer service and unfortunately one of the most over-looked steps. When companies want to embark on a customer service excellence initiative, most look to their customer facing employees to teach them how to “Smile”. A smile can’t compensate for the lack of getting the Must Haves right.
Must Haves are the things in your business that absolutely need to be done right – no exceptions. If done right, they don’t get noticed and don’t add WOW to the customer experience. But if not done correctly, will result in a dissatisfied customer. Getting the customer’s bill right doesn’t WOW the customer. It’s expected. But having an error in the bill will result in a dissatisfied customer. Meeting a promised delivery date doesn’t WOW the customer. It’s expected. Miss the date and your customer is dissatisfied.
Although simple in concept, too many product and service providers fall short of delivering Must Haves. They don’t have products in stock, miss delivery schedules, have excessive check-out wait times, don’t return calls, don’t show up on time for an appointment, have defective products, etc. etc. etc. Training customer service associates won’t fix these issues.
So before you send your customer service folks to intensive ‘empathy’ training, require them to repeat back a customer’s name or teach them how to say “my pleasure”, you must get the Must Haves right. That means eliminating defects, delays and shortcomings in your business processes. No amount of courtesy, smiles or empathy can substitute for failing to deliver a Must Have.
Delivering exceptional service starts with getting the Must Haves right and then adding an emotional connection that delights your customers. Do it well and it will not only keep your customers coming back but will turn them into your best marketing advocate.
Learn more about how to improve your work processes to deliver Must Haves @ Everyday Excellence