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Article -> Exceptional Service as Defined by Customers

Date Added: November 2006

Customers drive business. Happy customers perpetuate repeat business. It is no secret that to keep customers happy, organizations must be willing and able to offer exceptional customer service. To remain competitive, organizations need to create a customer experience that routinely exceeds customer expectations. The problem with this is that defining what makes one customer experience superior to others is very complicated and difficult to define.
A recent study found that while customer service employees rank themselves as offering “great” service, customers do not agree the service they are receiving is great. In the study, both employees and customers were asked the same questions. More than 80 percent of employees responded with the strong conviction that they exceeded customer expectations, while only 33 percent of customers agreed with the same statement.¹
It’s obvious that customers and employees have different ideas of what constitutes an exceptional customer experience. If customers and employees are not aligned, the results of other studies will produce the similar results. To provide remarkable service, employees and their organizations need to completely understand what the customers want, what customers need and what makes the customers delighted.
Oftentimes, organizations believe they understand the customers simply by studying trends and metrics or listening to their salespeople. However, the most effective way to truly understand your customer’s desires is by asking, listening and learning from them. Organizations can not optimally serve customers if they do not know what customers need. This needs to be discovered before customers’ needs become wants and expectations. By employing a Voice of the Customer process, organizations can obtain and learn from customer information and create proactive customer-specific action plans.
Voice of the Customer helps organizations engage their customers in dialogue and learn from them directly. It can help organizations identify customers’ needs and help them successfully implement a business strategy oriented around customers. By asking, listening and learning, organizations can take the information gathered and create specific guidelines to champion for customers.
Focusing on customers and the customer experience is a clear way for organizations to work to increase complete customer satisfaction and maximize profitability simultaneously. The first step in offering exceptional customer service is to discover and/or validate what customers really want. You cannot completely satisfy customers without first understanding them.

¹ Arussy, Lior. “Don’t Leave the Customer Experience to Chance.” 1to1 Magazine. July/August 2006: 47.
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