Several times yearly, Verinder Syal, a Chicago marketing consultant, publishes a very informative newsletter on marketing innovations and techniques. One of his best from 2013, contained a summary of The Art of Customer Service, taken from the book, Reality Check: The Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition, by Guy Kawasaki. Kawasaki was one of the Apple managers originally responsible for marketing the Macintosh in 1984. I believe this checklist is worth repeating and with permission, I am including Syal’s summary here.

  1. Start at the top. The CEO’s attitude toward customer service determines the quality of service that a company delivers.
  2. Put the customer in control. This requires two leaps of faith: first trusting customers to not take advantage of the situation; second, trusting employees to make sound decisions.
  3. Take responsibility for your shortcomings.
  4. Don’t point the finger.
  5. Don’t finger the pointer. Great customer companies don’t shoot the messenger.
  6. Don’t be paranoid. One of the most common justifications for lousy service is “What if everyone did this?
  7. Hire the right kind of people. The ideal customer service derives great satisfaction by helping people and solving problems.
  8. Under-promise and over deliver.
  9. Integrate customer service into the mainstream. Customer service largely determines the company’s reputation, so do not consider it a profit-sucking, necessary evil.
  10. Don’t give them a sales pitch. When customers call for customer service or technical support, they are hardly in a mood for a sales pitch.
  11. Use operating procedures, not scripts.
  12. Use operators. Use people, not systems to answer the phones. (No push 1 for Sales, 2 for Billing, etc.)
  13. Use a callback system.
  14. Keep customers in the loop.
  15. Make customers feel important.
  16. Follow up. The difference between acceptable and great customer service is how often and how well the customer service department follows up on requests.

Written By: Clifford F. Lynch