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The Secret to a Brilliant Customer Service Strategy


What’s the secret to a brilliant customer service strategy?


It’s not just about what you aspire to be. Yes it’s critical that you have a service strategy that clearly differentiates your organization from others. It must address not only the element of service that your customers treat as their top priority, but also the one that your organization uniquely provides. If what you do in a service sense mirrors what your closest competitor does, you really don’t provide a compelling incentive for people to choose you over others.

It’s not just about cool technology employed to facilitate customer transactions. Employing the latest technology to maximize the efficiency of your service operations is essential — as long as it doesn’t detract from the experience your customers have when they do business with you. And as long as its sole reason for implementing the technology is NOT to drive service costs down, as this end game will surely negatively impact service quality. Technology applied to enhance the customer experience AND improve the use of internal resources must be the desired outcome.

Awards and Recognition

It’s not just about the awards you win for “providing the best customer service”. This recognition is often provided by so-called experts in the customer service business who claim to have their fingers on the pulse of customers and who conduct surveys to determine the leaders in the service area. Because they apply their own criteria on what superlative customer satisfaction looks like, your organization could be praised for achieving high marks in an element of service your specific customers don’t value as their highest priority — your award is therefore meaningless to your business.

Serving Leadership

It’s not just about serving leadership that places the emphasis on helping service employees do their job. Serving leaders are critical to developing a successful culture based on delivering mind blowing customer experiences. A critical component of this culture is a leadership philosophy based on helping and enabling people do their jobs — removing the roadblocks and “grunge” that get in their way. Serving leaders are a critical ingredient to service culture, but more is required to sustain it in a highly changing and competitive world.


A brilliant customer service strategy IS about what is said and not said during the customer engagement process; the Moment of truth when the customer and company are connected for the purpose of satisfying what the customer wants and desires. The organization’s service strategy comes alive in that Moment, whether it’s a real time conversation with an employee, a web page view, an advertising message or an audio response from your call answer device.

In that Moment, your service strategy is no longer a strategic intent; no longer a piece of paper with words expressed on it. It’s an experience that either renders your intent alive or dead; the truth or a lie — your strategy in that moment degenerates into reality.

Words can hurt, anger and amaze

Many words characterize the Moment; words that either leave the customer feeling heard, honoured and cared for or feeing berated, belittled and angry.

This is where most organizations fail. They don’t treat words used in the Moment as a critical element of their strategy that needs as much or even more attention than the service end game intent. It’s one thing to say “When a mistake is made, recovery will be our #1 priority” and quite another to have service personnel equipped with the right words to manage the recovery Moment when the customer has been screwed over by their organization.

If the wrong words are chosen, the recovery element of your service strategy dies — and your customer trots off to one of your competitors. If the right words are chosen (with the promised action of course) the customer is surprised, delighted and more loyal than if the OOPS! never occurred in the first place.

Service training must include what to say and what not to say, starting with the latter because the trash words must be expunged and replaced with the words that will support and enable your service end game.

”You should”

Start with “You should”; the one single phrase with so much implied meaning that it can singlehandedly scupper a Moment.
“You should”:
— follow the instructions (you dummy)
— upgrade your software (can’t you read?)
— call the billing department (and don’t bother me)
— have reported the problem when you were covered by your warranty (don’t expect any help now)
— be more understanding (leave me alone!)
— have known our policy (WE control YOU remember?)
— make your choice (can’t you make up your mind?)

Related: 7 Actions to Be a Great Communicator

“You should” explicitly says that your behaviour should be governed by my expectations of you, NOT by your reality.

How can that ever lead to amazing customer service and Moments that leave the customer breathless?

It can’t.

Mind your words.

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