Consumers rule!

SaldechinCustomer service is all about what the customer thinks when a business encounter is done. Customers are the ones who decide how much they want to spend, where they want to spend, and how they want to spend. Our job as customer service professionals is to provide the consumer with the best product and the best service so they will want to spend their money, time, and loyalty with us. So what’s the secret?

Some time ago, Douglas Hanna did an interview with American Express’ Doria Camaraza, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Fort Lauderdale Service Center. Ms. Camaraza explained the company’s service ethos as related to their Customer Care Professionals. One of their keys to successful customer service for American Express is to build relationships with customers in personal ways. For instance, a trained Customer Care Professional will pick up on a cue from a card holder; perhaps a baby is crying in the background, someone is in a profound rush, or a frequent traveler is calling from a busy airport. Then it becomes the art of listening, having the information of each card holder available so individual attention can be specifically addressed, and having the ability through a comprehensive training program and mentoring process enabling them to be prepared in making important decisions to accommodate customer requests. Service and advice can then be personally based on the customer’s mood or even if they are  in a rush.

So what does an organization get out of raising the bar on employee training? The Customer Care Professionals at American Express aren’t limited to a certain amount of time when speaking with a customer nor are they required to memorize a script. Yesterday when I called American Express customer service because of a problem I am having with a company that has not sent me my order, my representative within in a few moments knew what I was talking about, and she was able to do the research to figure out what the problem was and why I didn’t receive the product I ordered. So what will I probably do the next time I need to order something online? I’ll use my American Express Platinum Card because their service was efficient, polite, and extraordinary.

So as customers rule, and that is obviously reality, we must learn never to assume we can guess what a customer always wants. Contact with any customer gives us the opportunity to extend our relationships and increase the lifetime value of each one of our customers. As we engage a customer in conversation, we can discover how they feel about our brand and if our brand delivers on its promises. We can gather customer input and initiate new procedures that are more effectively based on our relationship with the customer. We find out the good and the bad, and it’s an excellent opportunity to show customers they matter.

photo credit: mikecogh