5 Ways To Start Pursuing Service Craftsmanship

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Service matters. We know this in our guts, and yet, most companies make service an after-thought, and a cost center. They say, “We value our customers,” quite often on their pre-recorded 6-8 minute long hold message tape. Service has always mattered, but it’s coming to be a vital competitive edge. With that in mind, I wanted to offer you 5 starting points for improving your service craftsmanship.

Cure Your Amnesia

If someone buys from your organization and then later communicates with you about some matter, it would be good to know that they are a customer. Though we’re not really supposed to treat people differently, you would be foolish not to treat your best customers with the utmost of care. Remember that “most money paid” isn’t always the criteria for best. You’ll know the difference. To cure this, simply be sure that every system that requires one to know a name also gives that file some kind of nod to the fact that the customer is a repeat patron of your organization. Want to go a step further? Remember what I did last time and ask me if I want more of the same.

Consider The Extra Touches

In almost any business transaction, there’s an opportunity to add an extra nice touch. Quite often, this makes a powerful impact on your customer. What can you do? It can be simple, inexpensive, or even free, if it’s timely and shows a level of connectedness with your customer. Christopher Lynn from the famous Hotel Colonnade in Boston knew that Jacq and I were out at a Black Keys concert. He ran over to the mall across from his hotel, picked up a copy of the latest CD, and had it on our pillow when we came back. It was a perfect little touch that cost about $15 and 20 minutes of his time, but that strengthens my commitment to staying at the Colonnade any time I’m in Boston. What extra touch can you give? Can you draw smiley faces on my sales slips? Even that’s nice.

Communicate Simply, Clearly, and Almost Often

Airlines seem to have mastered the art of vagary, especially lately. As I experience more and more delays on flights, I’m getting answers like, “we’re just waiting on some paperwork.” First, it’s 2012. Do we really use a lot of paper? Evidently so. Second, why are you holding up my flight 10-15 minutes for a piece of paper? Answer: that’s not really why they’re delayed.

People want to feel informed. This improves outcome, even if the response from a company is a bit negative. It’s better to know that you’re not going to get your package today than it is to say, “Well, we’re tracking it and there haven’t been any updates to the status.” Be simple, be clear, and communicate fairly regularly (but not too much- if you over-communicate, it’s showing fear).

Reduce Friction Everywhere

Most processes come about from past experiences, and rarely from current circumstances. They almost never come from “what’s best for the customer.” If you have a process that makes it harder for people to do business, why would it shock you that people won’t do business with you? Policies are meant to facilitate business, not hamper it. Revisit every policy frequently to determine whether it’s giving you or your customers/clients a problem. It’s amazing what you’ll turn up. Sometimes, fixing this kind of friction costs money, but often, it’s as simple as crumpling up a piece of paper and starting with a new perspective. The rewards are magical.

Say Thank You

Companies have a strange history with saying thank you. Sometimes, they get the words out, but follow them up with, “And I’d love you to buy THIS item, too!” Other times, they say thank you only when they’re ready to hit you up in the sales process again, or when they need something. Get in the habit of thanking your clients and customers. It’s a magic secret to creating good service.

Service Craftsmanship

Service Craftsmanship is part of the Human Business Way, a set of guiding principles and practices we’ve assembled for professionals in companies of any size – solo to mega corporation – so we can help you build a sustainable, relationship-minded business. If you want to learn more about the Human Business Way, I’d recommend checking out my weekly newsletter (it’s FREE).

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  • OBVAVirtualAssistant

    Service is the God, it does surely matters. When we say “Thank you” there is a smile on the customers face. Wonderful learning article Chris!

  • http://www.adrianswinscoe.com/blog/ Adrian Swinscoe

    Hi Chris,
    Great post. Full of practical and human-centric ways of improving ‘service’ in the broadest possible way and helping us build better relationships with our customers. Funny many of these are things that we do in our personal lives to build and preserve relationships that matter to us but we forget our own wisdom when we enter the business sphere.


    Ps. You mention 9 starting points at the beginning of the post but I only counted five.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Crud. I meant to do only 5. Will fix.

      • http://www.facebook.com/dave.bowland Dave Bowland

        And sorry for the confusion….

  • http://rickmanelius.com Rick Manelius

    I like your point about the threshold of saying too much when communicating about a problem. I tend to err on the side of saying a lot because I like to be thorough, but it can come across as “you doth protest too much” instead of just caring and wanting to provide all the gory details.

    I’m always loathe to go to the other extreme… of being super curt/short because that feels cold to me. But maybe I can rethink of ways that it can be short and sweet but still warm, friendly, and informative.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      Brief is courteous. Curt is not. Isn’t it tricky?

  • http://twitter.com/SteveHaase Steve Haase

    Chris, I love the example of the extra touch from the hotel. It also shows that the proprietor knows which of his patrons have significant reach and influence. In today’s networked world, there’s no reason not to have at least a rudimentary sense of who your guests/customers are, and how you can best serve them so that everyone benefits.

    • http://chrisbrogan.com/ Chris Brogan

      One would think. I’m hearing a bit of “easier said than done” by the big company people. Wonder why. : )

      • http://twitter.com/SteveHaase Steve Haase

        Maybe it’s because they haven’t yet built a Twitter API connection into their booking system. ;) Why do you think this hasn’t caught on with bigger biz yet?

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  • Shelia

    Hi Chris, great post. I love your point about “extra touches”. I’ve made it a habit to document important notes about customers in our system. Remembering their name, what they purchased last, resolved issues, etc. really makes them feel important when you mention them.

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