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John is an executive recruiter & speaker sharing his thoughts on healthcare, recruiting, digital technology, career management & leadership. 

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18 April, 2014 Posted by John G. Self Posted in Career Management, Leadership
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Customer Service: A Real Differentiator

Posted April 18th, 2014 | Author: John G. Self

You cannot be perfect at customer service.  The real fun comes, I believe, in the trying to be perfect, being passionate about achieving that which is impossible to attain.

That companies understand they cannot achieve service perfection but still keep trying, is an amazing thing to me.  Contrast that with the many organizations that harp and hosanna about their customer service but seem always to have their fingers crossed.  Right behind an illusionary curtain, there is often someone focusing on a cost-benefit analysis.  They are the people that dumb down service to the extent that it is little more than an afterthought in the company values statement.

Those cost-benefit accountants say that service perfection is impossible to achieve and too expensive to even think about.  Fortunately there are companies that reject that idea.

Organizations like Apple, while they know they are not perfect, invest serious money in developing customer-centered systems and staff training, trying to be the best they can be. It shows in their customer service, from the retail stores to their technical support people who are NOT warehoused in some remote part of the world, available only through inconsistent satellite telephone link.  Compare Apple to Microsoft, with its still impressive profit margins and a large horde of cash.  Microsoft still refuses to invest in trying to have top-tier customer service.  Is it any wonder that sales of their tablets are less than impressive?  Why buy a device from a company whose customer service for their core product, software, seems to be based on the concept of a necessary evil?

Even in your own neighborhood, you do not have to look long to find frustrating examples of a so-so commitment to service, even in businesses that should be all about service.  Waiters in a fashionable hotel restaurant swap tables without bothering to tell dinner guests who grow frustrated trying to understand why the person who took their order is now ignoring them.  Or bartenders fail to smile or call a regular guest by name when presenting their bill, and seem more interested in when the shift ends than ensuring a good experience.  You can tell customer service is more of a slogan than a deeply ingrained value.

I love to be associated with clients and their employees who believe that while they may not be customer service perfect, it is wonderful and important to keep trying.  They understand, delightfully, that it is that philosophy that separates them from their competitors who spend more time and energy trying to figure how much service they can afford to give.

These ideas are just as important in career management.  In a period of continued high unemployment, it is interesting to me why more job candidates do not tout their customer service values and record of success.  Now there is a real market differentiator.

Sometimes it is the little things that can make a big difference.

© 2018 John Gregory Self

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