Create Elated Customers for Life by Delivering Surprise & Delight Customer Service

Surprise & Delight Customer Service

Surprise & Delight Customer Service

The following is what you will learn by reading this blog:

  1. The main business capabilities for a company to possess to deliver superb and legendary customer service

  2. The most critical capabilities to develop in order to enable your front-line employees to be able to deliver excellent customer service

  3. The introduction of the concept and definition of Surprise & Delight Customer Service and how the world’s top customer service companies deliver this consistently

  4. Examples of the best Surprise & Delight Customer Service that I have personally encountered and how they are linked to the critical components listed in #2 above

  5. Top customer service companies considered to be world-class in delivering Surprise & Delight Customer Service

  6. The programs you need to implement so that your company can deliver consistent Surprise & Delight Customer Service to your customers

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SECTION 1: Benefits of having elated, “surprised and delighted”, customers:

The research I have conducted indicates that truly elated customers, who are consistently surprised by the level of service they receive from your company, go on to tell multiple friends, relatives, acquaintances, co-workers about your company, products/services and stories of their great experiences interacting with your company. This grass roots customer advocacy transforms your customers from just your customers into infectious and 24×7 adjunct company sales and marketing agents, convincing people they interact with to buy from your company.

Additional research also shows that this customer transformation does not come when they rate your company and service as merely “Satisfied” but rather only when a customer is elated and rates your customer service with a 7 , or “Extremely satisfied”, rating as shown here:

Sample Customer Service Ratings

Sample Customer Service Ratings

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The following graph illustrates the correlation between the rating provided by a customer on their customer service and the strength of their company advocacy and likeliness to recommend a company.

Correlation between Customer Satisfaction Ratings and the Likeliness to Recommend/Advocate for a Company

Correlation between Customer Satisfaction Ratings and the Likeliness to Recommend/Advocate for a Company

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SECTION 2: Capabilities required to deliver exceptional “surprise and delight” customer service:

There are more than 10 dimensions in developing and delivering customer service excellence including the following:

  1. Development of a customer-oriented vision and strategy.

  2. Development of service excellence standards that are institutionalized across the enterprise.

  3. Development and maintenance of a company culture that drives team unity and focus as well as customer service excellence and a mindset of customers first.

  4. Implementation of a customer errors, omissions and anomaly recovery processes.

  5. Implementation of a customer experience and customer service excellence measurement system.

  6. Inclusion of customers in helping define and develop the final customer management capabilities, content, methods, etc.

  7. Implementation of a customer bill of rights and non-negotiable customer standards.

  8. Development of customer emotional connection points based on customer journeys.

  9. Development of a set of hiring criteria and standards to be able to identify and source employees who have a predisposition for delivering exceptional customer service (friendly, outgoing, personable, believes in helping others, rates high on empathy, etc.)

  10. Deployment of training that ensures front-line employees are customer service excellence certified so that they can deliver world-class customer first service.

  11. Delivery of surprise and delight (S&D) customer service & experience through the development of S&D customer processes.

While all of the above are important I feel that the last three are of critical importance in making customers consistently extremely satisfied.  In the next section we will cover the definition of surprise and delight customer service and share real examples of its delivery across many service-related industries.

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SECTION 3 – Surprise & Delight definition, examples:

Surprise and delight customer service is consistently going well above and beyond customer expectations such that customers feel both surprised and delighted by their treatment & level of service by your company.

Surprise & Delight Customer Service

Surprise & Delight Customer Service

Here are some examples of where I have personally encountered surprise & delight customer service:

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1) Hotels:

A) High Peaks Resort, Lake Placid, NY: I recently checked into the High Peaks Resort in the Adirondack Mountains during the time of my birthday.  The front desk has a champagne reception for all incoming guests. When we were offered champagne, my wife told them that we were celebrating my birthday.  The attendant responded by saying, “we will take care of it” and took the glasses away. I said to my wife, “that was confusing as they said we will take care of it” and then promptly took our glasses from us.   We got to our room shortly thereafter and heard a knock on the door. It was a service attendant with a bottle of champagne and a personalized birthday card signed by the front desk staff. Talk about surprise and delight customer service!! We were so impressed! Obviously, this resort embraces and understands the importance of S&DCS as described in #11 below.

  1. Delivery of surprise and delight (S&D) customer service & experience through the development of S&D customer processes

Here are the thoughts and emotions I recorded just after this superb treatment by the High Peaks Resort:

  1. They really care about their customers.

  2. This hotel really goes out of their way to make their customer’s stay memorable.

  3. They know how to make a customer smile.

  4. That just made my day.

Bottom line, I felt emotionally connected to the hotel and its employees following this treatment and felt like it was in business to make their customers happy vs. merely making $$$.

High Peaks Resort, Lake Placid NY

High Peaks Resort, Lake Placid NY

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As a global consultant I have had my share of extended stays at Marriott hotels. Here are a couple of surprise and delight stories that I have always remembered:

B) Marriott Shelton, CT.   I stayed at the Shelton, CT Marriott for nearly 8 months, typically staying from Sunday to Friday. When the hotel wasn’t busy for the weekend, they blocked out my room for reservations and let me keep many of my belongings in my room so I didn’t have to pack & unpack each week and could feel at home upon returning.  While away, they would gather all my dirty clothes for dry cleaning and have them hanging in my room closet upon my return.  On my last evening at the hotel the hotel staff threw me a surprise farewell party! They paid for everything – dinner, drinks, etc.  Talk about taking care of the customer with true surprise and delight service! I am willing to bet this instance of the delivery of S&DCS came as a result of both 9 & 10 on our list of needed customer service excellence capabilities:

  1. Development of a set of hiring criteria and standards to be able to identify and source employees who have a predisposition for delivering exceptional customer service (friendly, outgoing, personable, believes in helping others, rates high on empathy, etc.)

  2. Deployment of training that ensures front-line employees are customer service excellence certified so that they can deliver world-class customer first service.

Here are the thoughts and emotions I recorded just after this superb treatment by the Shelton Marriott:

  1. I’d recommend this hotel to anybody.

  2. They really appreciate a customer’s business.

  3. I have never been treated so well by a hotel.

  4. What a welcoming place to stay – they made me feel at home!

C) Marriott Princeton, Princeton NJ: Another extended stay required me to stay at the Princeton, NJ Marriott for 7 months.  One evening I was entertaining clients at the bar after a day of numerous long meetings. One client was fond of Remy Martin King Louis XIII cognac which sold for about $145 per shot at the time. A tradition of Marriott was, that if you had the last shot from the bottle, they give you the bottle, made from Baccarat crystal.   My client ordered three shots over the course of several hours which emptied the bottle. The bartender, being new, said he never heard of giving such an expensive bottle away and refused to provide the bottle to my client. I complained to no avail as the bartender refused to budge. The next morning while dressing, I heard a knock at the door, and it was the hotel GM with the empty bottle of King Louis XIII as well an additional half full bottle. He asked me to accept his sincere apology for a relatively new and untrained bartender who was filling in the previous evening and promptly gave me the two bottles. Needless to say, my client was thrilled by this surprise and delight turn of customer service events!! I am willing to bet this instance of the delivery of S&DCS also came as a result of both 9 & 10 on our list of needed customer service excellence capabilities:

  1. Development of a set of hiring criteria and standards to be able to identify and source employees who have a predisposition for delivering exceptional customer service (friendly, outgoing, personable, believes in helping others, rates high on empathy, etc.)

  2. Deployment of training that ensures front-line employees are customer service excellence certified so that they can deliver world-class customer first service

Here are the thoughts and emotions I recorded just after this superb treatment by the Princeton Marriott at Forrestal Village:

  1. That general manager is a class act and knows how to run a hotel.

  2. I was shocked that my disappointment wasn’t the end of the story and it turned into a positive event I will talk about for years.

  3. It was refreshing that they admitted a mistake and then went above and beyond to make it right.

  4. Wow! Talk about doing a 360 and turning a disgruntled customer into a surprised and delighted one!

Marriott Hotel, Princeton, NJ

Marriott Hotel, Princeton, NJ

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C) Marriott Philadelphia West, Conshohocken, PA (Philadelphia suburb): I was a senior executive at a consulting company in Conshohocken and traveled into the area frequently. The first several times in the area I stayed in several different hotels trying to find one that I liked. Since I was previously a Marriott top tier rewards member, I decided to give the Marriott Philadelphia West in Conshohocken, PA a try. The first time I stayed, I didn’t use the concierge lounge.  On my second visit, I did use the lounge in the evening and I fell in love with the place because of one incredible (a 1 in 1,000,000 person) great human being and Marriott employee.

The person’s name is Luigi and he not only manages the concierge lounge, he IS the concierge lounge and is the epitome of what a customer should experience at every concierge lounge across the globe. Luigi has been the manager of the lounge for many years and when possible, I go out of my way to stay at this hotel due because of his level of exceptional service.  Luigi always remembers my name, my wife’s name (even though he never met her), my favorite drink, food likes, dislikes, etc. I could be away from the hotel for many months and yet he always provides a warm friendly welcome” “Hello Mr. Jeffes – so nice to see you again!!” as he gives me a hug. He will tell you about all the appetizers and desserts being served that evening and then suggests some favorites. He entertains his guests by playing movies during movie night in the lounge. When he first introduced movie nights, he used his own money to provide the DVDs. Luigi clearly goes above and beyond and I can recall many surprise and delight moments where Luigi delivered superb customer service to me and many other guests. When you’re a road warrior like I was at the time, it’s the little things that make all the difference.  Seeing Luigi who makes a Marriott feel like your home and provides a relaxing haven when traveling, always puts a smile on my face. Luigi has surprise and delight customer service ingrained in his DNA and I have lost count of the number of times I have encountered this from him. One occasion stands out more than others in that I had an unusually dreadful day with many things not going as planned. I started early this day and worked unusually longer into the evening. I hadn’t slept much the night before and I was tired, hungry and feeling the pressure of the awful day I just had. When I went into Luigi’s concierge lounge, Luigi immediately picked up on my unusually sour mood as I must not have greeted him in the usual upbeat manner. He immediately sprung into gear, taking the following actions:

  1. Unsolicited, inquired of the front desk if there were any upgrades to a suite for me that evening.

  2. Asked if he could order my dinner to have it sent right to the lounge or my room.

  3. Handed me my favorite drink without asking.

  4. Since the lounge was very empty that night, asked me what I wanted on the television so I could unwind.

  5. Got me a hot towel to wipe my face and relax.

As a result, I started to immediately forget about the crappy day I had just had and started to feel myself relax. After about 30-45 minutes I was back to my old happy self with the experience of a bad day a distant memory.

What would happen to your service-oriented business if you had a Luigi? Your business volume and customer following would explode! Your customer loyalty would increase and customer service would become a distinct and immeasurable competitive advantage.

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Luigi is a natural at delivering exceptional customer service and this 1 in 1,000,000 person and service comes as a result of Marriott getting lucky enough to hire someone so exceptional. How do I know? I have stayed at Marriott properties and other hotels across the US and have not met anyone that even comes close to delivering the level of service that Luigi does.

By implementing #9 on our customer service excellence capability list, you will have much better odds of hiring someone comparable to Luigi:

  1. Development of a set of hiring criteria and standards to be able to identify and source employees who have a predisposition for delivering exceptional customer service (friendly, outgoing, personable, believes in helping others, rates high on empathy, etc.)

Here are the thoughts and emotions I recorded when it comes to Luigi and his level of service:

  1. I’d drive a long distance out of my way to spend a relaxing evening with Luigi.

  2. Luigi is a 1 in a 1,000,000 in terms of delivering exceptional customer service.

  3. Marriott is so lucky to have Luigi working for them.

  4. If Luigi were to become the head of training for all Marriott service employees, Marriott would blow away their competition in terms of delivering exceptional S&D customer service.

I won’t list the thoughts and emotions for the remainder of my S&D examples, but the point is that delivering exceptional customer service delivers a lasting and positive emotional connection between the brand, product/service and with the customer.

Luigi, Concierge Manager at the Marriott Philadelphia West Hotel

Luigi, Concierge Manager at the Marriott Philadelphia West Hotel

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  1. Ritz-Carlton, Battery Park, NYC. Ritz-Carlton is one of the top models for superior customer service world-wide and was a client in the past. Ritz-Carlton trains all of its employees to spot a customer opportunity in that they are trained to listen to and record each customer’s individual needs, issues, preferences, wants, wishes, etc. Employees are then empowered to deliver the type of service the customer wants without having to ask.

 

A great example is upon arriving at the Ritz-Carlton Battery Park, NYC a number of years ago, I remember casually saying to the bellman, among other topics, that I loved the view of lower Manhattan and that I didn’t eat on the plane.  I had just flown in from San Francisco. Upon checking in, the woman at the front desk smiled and called me by name before I mentioned it, told me that she arranged a high room with a beautiful view of lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty and said she arranged for a snack to be waiting for me free of charge when I arrived at my room.  She said, “I heard that you didn’t have a chance to eat on your way here”. All of this was noted by the bellman and passed onto the front desk without my knowledge to deliver Surprise and Delight Customer Service upon check-in, something Ritz-Carlton is legendary at providing. I would consider Ritz-Carlton the platinum standard for delivering S&DCS as they possess and effectively deploy all 11 of the customer service excellence capabilities listed above. Their excellent service is not by luck or chance; it is ingrained in their culture and at the center of Ritz-Carton’s core values, policies and processes.

 

2) Restaurants:

A) Water’ s Edge Lighthouse, Schenectady, NY:

Water’s Edge Light House on the Mohawk River, Schenectady NY

Water’s Edge Light House on the Mohawk River, Schenectady NY

There are two local restaurants that my wife and I have frequented that have world-class professionals working at them. The first is the Water’s Edge Lighthouse in Schenectady, NY who employs a gentleman named Greg.  We had originally met Greg at another restaurant that sadly closed. Greg is the type of individual that remembers your name when you arrive, makes you feel at home when he is serving you, makes conversation about you and your family and takes every chance to ensure you are having a great experience. He gets to know his all of his many 100’s of customers by name and goes out of his way to anticipate and suggest my next need as I am in the process of thinking about it. My wife and I now call this level of customer service “the Greg standard”.  One time, we arrived on a Saturday night, having made a reservation earlier in the week.  Somehow the reservation had been misplaced and the restaurant was full.  When Greg learned of the situation, he said to me, “don’t worry we have you covered” and then made room for us in very short order when the place was absolutely packed. Talk about surprise and delight customer service. There was zero questioning of me about whether I had forgotten to make a reservation, which I hadn’t since I recorded the name of the person who confirmed and the time of day when I called).  Greg and the team just made it right.

Like Luigi, you would be lucky to hire someone like Greg, but you’ll need a lot of luck as he too, is one in a million.  By implementing #9 on our customer service excellence capability list, you will have much better odds of hiring someone comparable to Greg:

  1. Development of a set of hiring criteria and standards to be able to identify and source employees who have a predisposition for delivering exceptional customer service (friendly, outgoing, personable, believes in helping others, rates high on empathy, etc.)

Greg with the Manager of Waters Edge Lighthouse, Joey

Greg (left) with the Manager of Waters Edge Lighthouse, Joey

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B) Mario’s New Lebanon, NY:

Mario’s Restaurant, New Lebanon, NY

Mario’s Restaurant, New Lebanon, NY

Sarah from Mario’s in New Lebanon, NY is another person who stands out as meeting “the Greg Standard” with her warmth, professionalism and exceptional service.  Sarah gets to know each of her customer’s names, likes, food and drink preferences.  She remembers the new wine that you tasted the last time you were in and makes everyone feel special.  We sometimes don’t even have to look at the menu as she will recommend a special that she thinks we will like or asks if we are ordering one of our known favorites.  At peak hours, Sarah handles customer requests with a sense of calm and professionalism. When she is serving numerous drinks, dinners and taking orders in person and via phone, she always finds time to smile and accommodate requests, chat, ask questions, etc.

My surprise and delight example from Sarah came when I atypically came in without a reservation due to a change in schedule.  Sarah looked at me and said they were full and then said, if you can wait a minute, I’ll see what I can do. Sarah did her magic and creatively asked the customers if they could move down to accommodate another guest which they all surprisingly and enthusiastically did.  Sarah has a “following” that enjoy dining at the bar when she is working.  Due to her pleasant demeanor and professionalism, I was able to get a spot for dinner, and even though the bar had squeezed in one more person, Sarah handled everything without a hitch and made me feel welcome.  Over the years, customers have shared with me that one of the main reasons they go to Mario’s is because of Sarah and the great food. Just like Luigi does for the Marriott Philadelphia West and Greg does for the Water’s Edge Lighthouse, Sarah’s presence adds to the overall experience of enjoying a delicious meal in a great atmosphere at Mario’s. Luigi, Greg and Sarah are all 1 in a 1,000,000 service professionals who are naturals at surprise and delight customer service and you’d be extremely lucky to hire someone like them.

Sarah from Mario’s Restaurant

Sarah from Mario’s Restaurant

3)

3) Retail:

 A) Amazon:

Amazon
Amazon

There is a now famous story brought to light by the New York Times titled “Put Buyers First? What a Concept”. It details how a customer, by no fault of their own, didn’t receive a shipment of a PlayStation for his son just before the holidays. Here is an excerpt from this article and a potentially disastrous situation was turned into a surprise and delight customer service moment: “It was early in the morning, and I had awoken with the sudden, sinking realization that a present I had bought for one of my sons hadn’t yet arrived. It wasn’t just any present either; it was a PlayStation 3, a $500 item, and a gift, I happened to know from my sources, that he was hoping for. Like most things I buy online, the PlayStation had come from Amazon.com. So I went to the site and tracked the package– something, thankfully, that is a snap to do on Amazon. What I saw made my heart sink: the package had not only been shipped, it had been delivered to my apartment building days earlier and signed for by one of my neighbors. I knocked on my neighbor’s door, and asked if she still had the PlayStation. No, she said; after signing for it, she had put it downstairs in the hallway.

Nonetheless, I got on the phone with an Amazon customer service representative, and explained what had happened: the PlayStation had been shipped, delivered and signed for. It just didn’t wind up in my hands. Would Amazon send me a replacement? In my heart of hearts, I knew I didn’t have a leg to stand on. I was pleading for mercy.

I shudder to think how this entreaty would have gone over at, say, Apple, where customer service is an oxymoron. But the Amazon customer service guy didn’t blink. After assuring himself that I had never actually touched or seen the PlayStation, he had a replacement on the way before the day was out. It arrived on Christmas Eve. Amazon didn’t even charge me for the shipping. My son was very happy. So, of course, was I.”  Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/05/technology/05nocera.html

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B) Zappos:

Zappos

Zappos

 

Right in-line with this blog article, Zappos is an e-commerce company whose #1 core value is to “Deliver WOW Through Service”.  In addition, in keeping with a customer first mantra, CEO Tomy Hsich states that Zappos is “a service company that just happens to sell shoes.” Here is a story I read while researching this article that definitely applies to Surprise and Delight Customer Service.  “Recently, a newly-married couple were packing up their belongings in preparation for moving. The husband packed his wife’s jewelry inside one of her purses, and packed the purse inside what he thought was a spare Zappos box. The wife, it turns out, was intending to return that purse to Zappos using that very box. Which she then does, having no idea that inside the purse now were several thousand dollars of her jewelry!

When the couple arrives at their new home and starts to unpack, bedlam breaks out as the wife figures out what has happened and why her jewelry is missing. The rep she reaches at Zappos decides to reroute the box directly to his desk, but once it arrives, the rep fears for the safety of the valuables if he were to ship them, and purchases a plane ticket to hand-deliver the package himself.  When he arrives, the incredibly grateful couple invite him in for dinner. Now they’re customers for life, as you can imagine.” Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2017/08/01/three-wow-customer-service-stories-from-zappos-southwest-airlines-and-nordstrom/#77ad6ace2aba

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Section 4: Top Surprise & Delight Delivery Companies:

 

Here is a list of several larger companies I consider to be at the top of their game and world-class in delivering surprise and delight customer service:

  1. Ritz-Carlton (consulting client)

  2. Marriott (consulting client)

  3. Zappos

  4. Amazon

  5. Southwest Airlines (consulting client)

  6. American Express (consulting client, 4 different projects)

  7. Costco

  8. Chic-Fil-A

  9. Wegmans Food Markets

  10. Publix

  11. Apple (consulting client)

  12. USAA Insurance

 

Section 5: How to implement Surprise & Delight Customer Service for your company or organization

 

How do companies like Amazon Ritz-Carlton and Zappos consistently deliver exceptional or legendary levels of customer service?  Do they rely on being lucky enough to hire the 1 in 1,000,000’s like Luigi from Marriott Philadelphia West or Greg from the Waters Edge Lighthouse or Sarah from Mario’s above, or do they possess something else, like a secret sauce to deliver this type of amazing customer service? Having consulted for Ritz-Carlton in the past, I know that many follow a similar 5 step process detailed below.

Step 1:  Map your customer journeys:

 

Leveraging an integrated team of process experts, customer service and front line employees, map the various ways customers journey through an experience with your company. Examples include:

  1. Customer prospect, exploring your potential services and/or products

  2. First time website visitor, buyer.

  3. Repeat or renewal website visits.

  4. Existing customer, new product and/or service purchase.

  5. Customer returns, complaints or warranty claims.

  6. Service termination or account closure.

Here is a chart that illustrates examples of these various types of journeys:

 

Customer Experience Journey Sample, Example

Customer Experience Journey Sample, with Measurements

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Step 2:  LISTEN TO AND CULTIVATE meaningful and valuable customer needs, preferences, etc.:

 

In parallel with mapping you customer experience journeys, develop a program that continually gathers customer insights into what is most important and meaningful for each individual customer. A gift card could be given to any customer, but to know that customer A likes Starbucks, and customer B would love a Amazon Kindle gift card and customer C would value an ITunes gift card goes a long way to demonstrate that you are paying attention.  It also demonstrates that you are in tune with customer interests and care about them as individuals.  These 1-to-1, personalized surprise & delight moments build loyalty and  make a customer feel valued.

 

Step 3:  Map customer S&D opportunities along your customer journeys:

Once you have determined and documented the majority of your important customer journeys and determined what is meaningful and valuable to each of your customer’s preferences, start overlaying customer surprise & delight opportunities along these journeys. Here is a real example of how a client mapped a surprise a delight moment for high value customer issues. The key is to develop business rules that need to be satisfied in order for that surprise and delight moment to be fulfilled. In this case, a high value customer whose order was misplaced and later corrected once error was discovered, receives a gift as an apology for the error.

Customer Experience Journey with S&D Opportunity Process Example

Customer Experience Journey with S&D Opportunity Process Example

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Example: Value of item lost $500. High value customer A would receive a $100 Starbucks gift card, customer B would receive a $100 Amazon gift card and customer C would receive a $100 ITunes gift card.

 

Step 4:  Develop & deploy customer S&D policies & procedures:

 

The next step is to distill all of the surprise & delight opportunities mapped along customer journeys into a set of front-line employee policies and procedures. Here are a couple of examples of each:

Policies:

  • We will compensate high value (high value is client specific) customers for errors and anomalies that are of no fault of their own.

  • Front-line employees shall be responsible and rewarded for turning satisfied customers into delighted, loyal customers by empowering them to easily and quickly deliver surprise & delight moments.

  • Each front-line employee shall undergo front-line customer service certification training to ensure they are prepared and equipped to delivery legendary customer service via surprise and delight moments, customer needs cultivation, etc.

  • Cultivate and reward the best employee surprise & delight customer stories from each quarter and showcase and provide rewards for ‘the best of the best’ at the end of the year.

Procedures:

  • If a high value customer is calling to complain about a missing shipment of high value that was lost of no fault of their own, we will compensate with an item of meaningful value to that customer worth 20-25% of the missing item.

  • Prior to checking into the hotel, we will check the customer preference and need profile on record to ensure all needs are met during the upcoming stay.

  • Employees are to document all cultivated customer preference insights during their current visit in the global customer preference database in order better serve the customer’s individual likes, preferences, needs, etc. Details on how to do this are documented in the global customer preference database procedures manual and trained on during front-line employee customer service certification.

Step 5:  Develop a set of S&D hiring standards & train on S&D policies, procedures, etc.

The last step is to ensure you are hiring the best employees that they have the highest Exceptional Customer Service Aptitude (ECSA). In addition, you need to continually train and certify your employees on customer service policies, procedures, processes and how to consistently deliver exceptional, surprise & delight customer service.

1) Screen for the Best:

To hire those with the highest ECSA, you need to develop a customer service screening questionnaire as I have done for many clients to be able to consistently hire those who are predisposed at delivering great customer service and screen out those who are not. By doing this, you are screening employee candidates to find and hire only those who posses the characteristics that are most like Luigi, Greg and Sarah who are naturals at delivering exceptional S&D service.

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2) Train to be the Best, Continually Improve:

The next sub-step is to develop a set of high quality customer service training materials and processes to certify your front-line employees on exceptional customer service delivery policies and procedures. All new employees should be certified via the training and all existing employees should have to re-certify to ensure adherence to the latest exceptional customer service policies and procedures. Ongoing training for all employees will help ensure a high level of customer service is being consistently delivered.

 

Summary:

You can either hope for good luck in the hiring of natural and exceptional customer service employees that are 1 in 1,000,000 or you can develop a holistic Customer Service Excellence program with multiple dimensions and capabilities such that all employees perform to the level of a Sarah, Greg and Luigi. By hiring, training and enabling your front-line employees to consistently deliver surprise and delight moments for your customers, your company will develop a cult-like customer following similar to Zappos, Amazon and Ritz-Carlton.  Your customers will remain fiercely loyal and will actively advocate to increase your revenue, margins and brand reputation. With all this being true, there is no excuse to not actively work on creating the best surprise & delight customer program possible?!

If your organization is seeking experienced assistance in deploying legendary levels of “surprise and delight” customer service, then give me a call or e-mail me at 518-339-5857 or stevenjeffes@gmail.com

Lastly, this is just one article of over 50 articles I have written on Customer strategy, customer experience, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 121,000 world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside Salesforce.com, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here: https://blog.feedspot.com/crm_blogs/

Leveraging Centers of Excellence Can Propel Your Company into a Market Leadership Position

How a Center of Excellence Can Benefit Your Company

How a Center of Excellence Can Benefit Your Company

COE

This blog is dedicated to educating you on a widely used function of many market leading companies, namely a center of excellence.  Specifically, I cover the following points associated with a center of excellence:

  1. Center of excellence definition (a.k.a. competency center or a capability center

  2. What benefits are gained by a company that develops & deploys a center of excellence

  3. What existing companies utilize centers of excellence

  4. What types of centers of excellence are typically setup and utilized

  5. Detailed example of the following:

    • Specific benefits of a type of center of excellence

    • The specific functions of a center of excellence

    • Typical services delivered by a center of excellence

    • Sample organizational structure for a center of excellence

    • On-off shore considerations for centers of excellence

Center of Excellence Definition

Center of Excellence Definition

Above: Center of excellence defined. Another way to think of a center of excellence is as an internal set of expert consultants available to assist you with specific sets of initiatives.

COE

Simpler Center of Excellence Definition

Simpler Center of Excellence Definition

Above is another, more simple, definition of a center of excellence.

COE

Center of Excellence Benefits

Center of Excellence Benefits

Above is a few (of many) benefits of implementing a center of excellence.  The most important aspect of a center of excellence is that it facilitates your company to getting ahead of your competitors and increases the chance that the company will attain market leader status.

COE

Companies That Have Utilized a Center of Excellence

Companies That Have Utilized a Center of Excellence

Above is a list of sample companies that utilize centers of excellence. In order to explore the details associated with these companies and their center(s) of excellence, merely Google the company name along with “center of excellence” to find out more. 

COE

Center of Excellence Applications

Center of Excellence Applications

Above are the types of centers of excellence that have been implemented by Fortune 500 companies in the past. Recently, I helped a Fortune 500 company implement both a CRM center of excellence (COE) and a Testing COE. We will perform a deeper dive into a testing center of excellence later in this post to illustrate a few details associated with a COE’s setup, operation, functions, etc.

COE

Testing Center of Excellence Example

Testing Center of Excellence Example with Functions and Benefits

The illustration above depicts the types of functions specifically delivered by a testing center of excellence (TCOE) as well as the associated benefits. For example, a TCOE maintains a training and certification function in order to help train other company teams on delivering higher quality testing and associated consumer products/services.

COE

Testing without a COE

Testing without a COE

“Hold on a minute you” might say at this point and then ask, “Why would you need a testing center of excellence (TCOE)?” Anticipating your potential push-back, the above illustrates the inefficiencies associated with performing one-off testing in a decentralized basis without TCOE support and oversight.

COE

Inefficiencies of Traditional Testing Methods

Inefficiencies of Traditional Testing Methods

The illustration above lists some specific examples of additional inefficiencies associated with performing case-by-case ad-hoc testing in lieu of having implemented a TCOE.

COE

Typical Functions Delivered by a Testing COE

Typical Functions Delivered by a Testing COE

What are the functions and/or organizational components of a testing COE you might ask? Above is my viewpoint on the typical organizational components and functions delivered by a TCOE. There are many others, but the above are the most frequent functions delivered by TCOE organizational components.  

COE

TCOE Delivered Testing Services

TCOE Delivered Testing Services

The first service typically delivered by a TCOE is to provide testing services to various company team and development initiatives. The above illustrates the types of testing services provided by a TCOE to other company teams/department. 

COE

TCOE Methods and Tools Delivery

TCOE Methods and Tools Delivery

The second service typically delivered by a TCOE is to develop, maintain and deploy testing methods, tools and processes to other company departments and associated testing initiatives. 

COE

TCOE Expert Services Delivery

TCOE Expert Services Delivery

The third service typically delivered by a TCOE is to provide consulting style expertise to other company departments and associated testing initiatives. 

COE

TCOE On/Off-Shore Considerations

That concludes my overview of what a center of excellence is and what it can do for your company.

If your organization is seeking world-class and experienced assistance developing and implementing a center of excellence or any of the following: associated services:

  1. Determining whether there is a viable business case to implement a COE

  2. Developing a strategic implementation plan for COE

  3. Developing an organizational structure and resource plan for a COE

  4. Developing a COE pilot program

If yes, please give me a call, I call help you implement world-class center of excellence that enable you to surpass your competition and bring your organization to the next level of market performance and share.

Lastly, this is just one article of 40+ total I have written on Customer strategy, CRM, marketing, product management, competitive intelligence, corporate innovation, change management – all of which I have significant experience in delivering for Fortune 500 companies.  In fact, my blog is now followed by nearly 160,000 world-wide and was just named one of the top 100 CRM blogs on the planet by Feedspot, alongside Salesforce.com, Infor, Microsoft, SAS, etc. – Reference this informative site here: https://blog.feedspot.com/crm_blogs/

Blow Away Your Competition by Replacing Your Old CRM Program with the New Customer Relevant Relationship Management (CRRM) Model – Part 2: The Necessary Components.

1) Introduction:

In my previous blog, I covered what the new Customer Relevant Relationship Model (CRRM) is and the benefits of adopting this new model. In this blog, I will cover the components of the new CRRM model and what you need to put in place to make this new model a reality.

Ever wonder why companies like ESPN, Apple, Google, Zynga, Amazon, and Marriott dominate their respective markets? The reason is that they are ‘Customer First’ organizations and are passionate about listening to, understanding and then delighting their customers based on leveraging true customer insights. They treat their customers as business partners vs. commodities and include them in many critical decision making processes. They get this new CRRM model. Why/how ? – Read the rest of this blog to find out…

The differences between the old CRM model and how these companies are embracing the newer CRRM model are depicted in the following chart:

The Old CRM Model vs. New CRRM Model – Customers as Business Partners

2) Customers are fed up with old Dictatorial Management Style & Want to be Empowered as Business Partners

Customers and stakeholders today are longing for a company to partner with them and include them in the corporate decision making process.  These same constituencies are sick and tired of political, corporate, and other organizations making unilateral decisions for them that are really not in-line with their needs,  wants, etc. The backlash from this unwanted dictatorial management style of some companies can be seen in the Bank of America fee customer rebellion, the customer backlash from Netflix deciding to  split their company without first consulting with their customers and HPs initial decision to exit the computer market.

3) Components of the New CRRM Model:

In order to progress your organization from the old CRM model to the new CRRM  model, a few key essentials must be put in place and are as follows:

A. New CRRM Model that includes the 360° Cultivation of Customer & Market Insights.  This model enables a 360° view of all customer and market insights including customer feedback, preferences, likes, dislikes, social sentiment, competitor activity, etc. This new model takes your insights to an entirely new level whereby you are now enabled to delight customers, stakeholders and stockholders by having insights that are light-years ahead of insights provided by a traditional CRM model.

B. Customer First Culture driven by management that is passionate about their customers including a set of customer first principles and guidelines developed by company leaders

C. Customer Ratings & Feedback Structure that will identify areas where you will collect customer 360° feedback from customer and stakeholder interactions

D. Customer Feedback & Preferences Cultivation Process and corresponding infrastructure in order to allow your customers to continually rate how well you are serving them

E. Customer Health Scorecard that provides real-time insights on how well the customers, stakeholders and stockholders perceives you as serving them as well as insights into a Continuous Customer Improvement Process (CCIP) that enables you to continually improve your customer perceptions, satisfaction, brand loyalty, etc.

These components can apply to large enterprises as well as Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs).

The following graphics are all sample components from the list above (A-D) that need to be put in place to enable this new CRRM Model.

New CRRM Model – 360° Cultivation of Customer & Market Insights

 3A) The above chart “New CRRM Model – 360 Cultivation of Customer & Market Insights” demonstrates the new insights model that must be put in place to deliver world-class stakeholder and customer programs.

These enhanced insights will enable you to deliver products and services that delight your customers, stakeholders and stockholders as well as enable you to leapfrog the competition in terms of market share if they continue to rely on their antiquated CRM data and analytics insights only model. 

For Small to Medium sized Businesses (SMBs), some of the insights do not apply, but the following charts (3B-3E) most certainly apply and can be tracked via simple Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

CRRM Customer First Policies & Organizational Principles

3B) The above chart “CRRM Organizational Guiding Principles” demonstrates the principles that must be in-place to be customer first culture. This culture is driven by management that is passionate about their customers and governs the company around a set of customer first policies.

Sample Enterprise CRRM Customer Rating & Feedback Structure

3C) The above chart “Enterprise CRRM Customer Rating & Feedback Structure” illustrates a sample structure (will vary for each type of business) whereby customer feedback and preferences will be cultivated in order to develop 360° insights into customer needs, wants, likes, etc.

Enterprise CRRM Customer Feedback & Preferences Cultivation Process

3D) The above chart “CRRM Customer Ratings & Feedback Cultivation Process” illustrates a how customer feedback and preferences will be cultivated in order to develop 360° insights into customer needs, wants, likes, etc.

Sample Enterprise CRRM Customer Scorecard Ratings Visualization

3E) The above chart “Enterprise CRRM Customer Scorecard Ratings Visualization” illustrates a how customer feedback and preferences ratings will be visually represented in a scorecard. 

Sample Enterprise CRRM Customer Scorecard Metrics

3E-2) The above chart “Enterprise CRRM Customer Scorecard” illustrates a how customer feedback and preferences ratings will be rolled up into an analytical scorecard that provides insights into customer trends,  customer feedback, customer issues, core customer strengths and weaknesses, etc. 

This scorecard can also be used to manage a Continuous Customer Improvement Process (CCIP) that continually drives improvements to customer perceptions, ratings, satisfaction, etc. 

Sample Scorecard for “Shopping Experience”

The above depicts how analytics and metrics would be maintained for a business who had a retail or wholesale shopping function.

Sample Shopping Experience Scorecard – #2

Robust Scorecard Analytics and Metrics should support Customer Trend Identification and Root Cause Analysis for Customer Issues.

Sample Branding & Public Relations Scorecard

Sample Public Relations Scorecard Above gives you insights into how well your company and brands are perceived by customers, stakeholders, stockholders, etc.

Sample Customer Service Scorecard

Sample Customer Scorecard Above from Customer Service tells how well you are serving your customers.

Sample Marketing Scorecard

Sample Marketing Scorecard Above Gives you insights into how well your Marketing Efforts are resonating with your customers.

Sample Product Management Scorecard

The Sample Product Management Scorecard above gives you insights into how well perceived your products and services are with customers and prospects.

4) Company & Customer Benefits of Adopting the CRRM Model:

By treating customers as business partners (vs. commodities) and including them in the corporate decision making process, as well as allowing them to rate how well you are serving them from an array of customer facing areas, companies can reap huge rewards including the following:

1. Better insights into the types of products and services customers want & need

2. Fiercely loyal customers who feel part of the corporate team

3. Customers who are most likely to spend more, be retained longer and purchase at premium prices with higher profit margins

4. Customers who are very likely to be brand advocates and refer others to your company, brands, and services.

5. Customers who feel connected to the company and empowered to improve company operations

The following are actual customer comments from those who have participated in a customer feedback program to help shape products & services:

“I feel like xyz company cares about me since they ask my opinion”

“Finally a company that listens to us”

“It is so refreshing to have a company ask you your opinions on products and services vs. ramming something down our throats that we don’t like”

“Wow – this is fun. I enjoy providing my opinion”

“As silly as this might sound, xyz company is the only company that ever asked me what I wanted”

“In my opinion, xyz company is much more progressive than their competitors by seeking consumer opinions, what matters to them, etc.

 5) Conclusion:

More dynamic companies like Goodle, Zynga, Amazon, etc. are inviting customers to become part of the corporate decision making process and empowering them to provide feedback, insights and rate company operations in order to drive continous customer improvements. Companies who adopt this new CRRM model whereby company management is democratized by including stakeholders and customers into the decision making process will reap the rewards of ever higher customer acquisition, retention and spend – leading to ever higher profits and share price.

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