What’s the best customer service experience you’ve ever had? What’s the worst? Chances are, you remember each of those moments quite easily, yet there’s still tremendous confusion in the industry about what a great customer service experience entails, and how it ties to CX and customer loyalty.
Loose Threads, a retail industry analysis blog and newsletter, published a detailed piece about what it sees as the most misunderstood loyalty program in the world: Amazon Prime.
“The biggest lesson to take from Prime is that loyalty is about behavior. It is not about a point system, coupons, discounts, branded credit cards or any other oversimplified projection of loyalty. Instead, loyalty is about nurturing behavior that defaults in a business’s direction.
Building the best customer experience is a guaranteed way to incite loyalty. With a true understanding of Prime, one can apply this mentality to other industries, including ones that don’t rely on fast shipping. The key is to simply enable an experience that is so good it changes previous behavior. That’s all loyalty is.”
Bezos is a man dedicated to customer experience, if nothing else. And Prime is a prime example. Amazon was willing to lose money on the venture –– just to encourage a behavior based on the best possible customer experience.
Companies providing excellent customer service
Another beloved company is the American arsenal did the same: Apple. Steve Jobs was also notoriously dedicated to the customer experience –– often dismissing what potential customers said they wanted for what he knew they couldn’t even dream of. It’s where the invention of the iPod scroll button and smartphones came from. Once upon a time, there were hand movements that while natural outside of technology, we couldn’t fathom within it.
Even in Jet Ski technology, this mentality holds true. Jet Skis were popularized by Kawasaki in 1973, when they released the first production stand-up Jet Ski. Jet Ski, in fact, is the branded name that Kawasaki gave to the Personal Watercraft (PWC) –– similar to how the Kleenex brand became synonymous with tissue.
But the Kawasaki Jet Ski was to be outdone in 1988 with the invention of the sit-down PWC by both Bombardier with their Sea-Doo and Yamaha with their Waverunner.
The story goes that consumers complained about the stand-up Jet Skis style, suggesting that Kawasaki add padding to the base. They did –– but never foresaw the increased benefits of the sit down model.
The Sea-Doo and the Waverunner remain today the most popular jet ski models.
How do I give the best customer service experience?
Creating the best customer service experience possible isn’t magic and unicorns. You dedicate yourself to improving the experience not just based on what the customer asks for or says they want.
This is the age of data, after all.
Customer input is vital and key, but it isn’t the only input. Data from outside industries, up-and-coming technologies, and good old fashioned innovation is where true customer service outcompetes competitors to the point they can hardly even stay in the game.
The 3 key elements to great customer service
This means that your team needs to do three things:
First, you must know your customer better than anyone. You need to find your tribe of the 100 customers who love your brand and their experience with it. And then you need to turn those 100 customers into a feedback community that you can share ideas with, have test new products, and so on. They are your test group –– and your word of mouth promoters. The better you know your customers, the harder you are to compete with.
Second, you have to realize that your customers only know so much about themselves. Use surveys, heat maps, and other forms of data collection to get to the bottom of what customers are really asking for. As with the Kawasaki example, customers weren’t really asking for padded stand-up Jet Skis. They were asking for a most comfortable ride –– which meant sitting. Knowing your customers is one thing. Knowing how to read between the lines of their requests is another thing entirely –– and it’s where innovation lives.
Third, you need to look outside your own industry, and trust that internal disapproval isn’t a sign you’re on the wrong path. In fact, Peter Thiel once said: “The wisdom of crowds tips into the madness of crowds – and you end up with a sort of conformity, lemming-like behavior. It actually becomes a somewhat less creative place.” This is what writers like David Perell call the “Paradox of Consensus,” writing: “Dissenting voices will improve the quality of your decisions, so welcome them with open arms.”
When it comes to service, how would you describe the optimal experience?
Excellent customer service experiences are art as much as they are science. It’s about reading between the lines of what your customers say they want, understanding human psychology in the way we ask for our needs or pet peeves to be solved, and focusing on creating a behavior –– not just increasing revenue.
The best customer service experiences out there are not just about solving problems reactively for our customers, they’re about proactive innovation that surprises and delights consumers in ways they never thought possible.
It’s the driving force behind Amazon and Apple. It’s why we sit down when we ride a jet ski. It’s why we are all so enamoured with the brands providing experiences that enrich our lives: they’ve changed our behavior, given us what we couldn’t verbalize, but which we always wanted.
To sum it up, good customer service experiences are innovations –– ones that reveal back to us the ingenuity of humankind.