The Real Meaning of Customer Service


There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.

– Roger Staubach

Practical LeadershipA few years ago, I had the unique opportunity to visit India, China, Thailand, and Vietnam. And what struck me above all else was their concept of customer service. To be sure, they had distinct differences in their history, business practices, and appreciation of the relative worth of individuals versus society as a whole. But they shared – and demonstrated – a level of customer service that was exceptional. They went to great lengths to insure we felt appreciated and valued… whether we decided to do business with them or not.

These four countries have made tremendous progress in recent years in the global competitive marketplace, and we have come to believe some of that progress is because they are committed to a superior level of customer service. We can learn from their best practices in this regard.

As we have talked about before, Level Five leaders set the bar for outstanding customer service through personal example and daily, repeated reinforcement. If you are indeed committed to superior customer service, your team knows you’re going to live it, and check on them to make sure they are living it, too. Demonstrate by your daily actions that “exceptional customer service” is more than just a slogan.

What are the best tools for measuring your level of customer service? One proven technique is to ask your customers how they feel about your performance. Pick up the phone and call one customer each day. Don’t delegate this task to others — do it yourself. Ask what he or she thinks is the one element of your product or service that could be done better. Share the answers with your team, then go do something to improve that aspect of your product or service, and give the customer feedback on what you’re doing. Your customers will become even more loyal to you for asking for input and taking action, and they will tell others. Good news spreads quickly. People tell others when they feel valued.

Try this “Personal Customer Daily Contact Plan” for a few weeks and see what happens. I think you’ll be really pleased with the results — profit-growing results. And your team will be proud of your customer service leadership and emulate your example. If the fastest growing developing countries can do this to a level others notice, it’s clear the greatest nation on earth can do it even better. Enjoy the journey!