Fine Isn’t Good Enough

Some companies that try to provide great service will often ask “how was your experience today?” or “did you enjoy your experience/meal/etc.?” From when I’ve asked that question either as both a manager and a consultant, I’ve noticed that a lot of customers will say “fine.”

I tell companies that fine isn’t good enough. When a lot of companies hear a customer answer “fine”, “so far so good”, “okay”, etc., they just move on. The answer didn’t express obvious discontent, so everything is fine and dandy, right? Wrong.

There is a nice little statistic that says if customers rate you as a 3 (usually good) in a survey with a 5 point scale (1-5, with 5 being the highest), they are just as likely to leave your company for a competitor as the same customer who rated you a 1 (very poor). In this context, it means that a customer who says something average like fine isn’t really that happy. Basically, fine isn’t good enough.

From now on, when a customer answers with something like fine or the like, do the following:

Tell the customer.
Tell the customer that your company is striving for something a lot better than fine. Then, you immediately do the next step:

Probe a little.
Ask some more specific questions about the service, the product, the representative the customer they’ve been dealing with, etc. Ask about their favorite and least favorite parts of the experience. It isn’t that hard to probe – just remember to be specific with your questions or you will likely continue to get pretty vague answers.

Ask another question.
This is different than probing. It can be done in addition to or instead of it. When the customer answers fine, ask “what could we have done (or do) to make the experience great?” Some companies like fantastic, terrific, unforgettable, etc. It really depends on what sort of experience you are trying to deliver.

Don’t bug the customer.
There are plenty of customers who say fine just to shut you (the manager) up. You have to read the customer and learn not to bug them. There is a fine line between extracting valuable information and bugging the customer. If their answers continue to be short or they seem to get annoyed, just leave them alone and offer to help if they need any help.

If a customer says something negative, act on it!
It is not uncommon for managers to ask a customer how their experience was, hear the customer say something negative, and then pretty much ignore it. A lot of managers like to stop at “Thanks for the feedback. I apologize about the inconvenience.” This is unacceptable. If a customer says something went wrong, act on it!

3 Responses to “Fine Isn’t Good Enough”

  1. CustServ: Customer Relations: The New Competitive Edge said:

    Sep 19, 07 at 2:14 am

    […] The latest post on Service Untitled touches on checking the quality of customer service you give out. If your customer says that your service is fine, that’s not good enough. Your customer should be ecstatic, and shout, “Great service!” […]

  2. Tim said:

    Oct 25, 07 at 12:44 pm

    The nice little statistic you mentioned about the 5 point scale is interesting to me since our company uses a 5 point scale on our surveys. Our results would support that statistic. Can you tell me wher eyou found it? Thanks


  3. Service Untitled said:

    Oct 25, 07 at 9:28 pm

    I don’t know where I found it exactly. It is a pretty well known statistic in the customer service industry.