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Uncommonly Poor: 12 Simple Solutions To Create Exceptional Customer Service

Customer service is mostly average, mediocre, or worse. I find it amazing that the of high quality customer service is so uncommon even with all the talk and focus on the topic. When speaking to groups of CEOs recently, the attendees indicated that customer service is "not rocket science." The reality is many of their employees are not delivering the basics. It is tough to move on to a discussion of "customer experience" when the basics are not the standard.

Here is my list of the 12 fundamentals of customer service. The list is short and to the point - no need to elaborate on simple steps that should be the norm for all teams interacting with your customer.

  1. Answer your phone. It is a pleasant surprise when real people answer phones and are ready to serve.
  2. Respond to emails and social media contacts fast. Engage and acknowledge.
  3. Do what you say you are going to do. This strategy solves most problems and creates satisfied customers.
  4. Get it right the first time. First time resolution is expected.
  5. Fix problems fast. Apologize sincerely and follow up.
  6. Stop blaming. Customers don't care about your internal issues.
  7. Listen the first time. Let the customer know you heard them to keep them from repeating.
  8. Use the customer's name. This easy step can make a big difference when done with respect.
  9. Make eye contact. When face-to-face, look at the customer and not just acknowledge from a distance.
  10. Be sincere and real. Customers are tired of the practiced phrases. Connect and engage.
  11. Thank the customer. Leave the customer with a positive impression.
  12. Have fun. Customers want to do business with likeable, happy people.

Check your daily interactions against these 12 fundamentals. My guess is you need either a brush up or a complete overhaul just to get the basics right with every customer, everyday, and every time.


Lisa Ford is a speaker with over 20 years of experience presenting to businesses, associations and government. She speaks throughout the United States and internationally on topics of customer service, leadership, team issues, and change. Lisa is best known for her work in the areas of customer service. She is the author of the videotape series How to Give Exceptional Customer Service, the #1 selling business tapes in the U.S. for over 3 years. Her other videos and audiotapes include: Developing a Customer Retention Program, Building a Customer Driven Organization: The Manager's Role and Personal Power. Her recent book is Exceptional Customer Service - Going Beyond Good Service to Exceed the Customer's Expectations.

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