At the end of the day, customer service is the management of a relationship. This may be a short term transactional one, or a longer-term, partnership-based one. The quality of the service is determined by its effect on the perceived relationship these two parties have.
Great customer service is, therefore, a function of relationship. Whatever builds, maintains and strengthens relationships contributes to great customer services. Whatever undermines relationship or tears it down leads to poor customer experiences.
The biggest challenge then is understanding the building blocks of healthy relationships. Clearly, this is a tricky space to get a grip on. Certainly, we can agree on a number of basics.
- Selflessness: that which seeks my needs and outcomes above yours does not build relationship. (Since the customer always pays, the customer keeps their side of the bargain, will you do the same)
- Conflict Resolution: stuff goes wrong sometimes. Finding ways to restore the damage is key to protecting relationship. (Once again, since customers pay, the conflict is usually caused by a lack in delivery or misleading marketing) If the outcome is not edified relationship we have a ways to go.
- Respect: This should be mutual. Healthy relationship requires even footing. The customer is vulnerable because they are exposed to an emotionless non-relational entity. As soon as they feel disrespected it triggers a disrespectful response because they discover what they thought was a relationship turns out to be merely a transaction.
Make today a day you improve the outcomes for the relationships you touch at every point you touch them. Before too long, you will be the best service in town. Great services always edify, uplift and protect relationships, not policies, processes or paychecks.