Creating Fanatical Customer Service
There is a great article in this month's Fast Company Magazine about Rackspace, a company that provides back-end servers for companies that outsource their server hardware. Rackspace also provides world-class customer service, which is not something that many people would expect (although it is something that should be expected) from a high technology company.
How do they do it?
From the article:
". . .a few simple rules: Criticizing a customer is a firing offense. Be reliable. No news is not good news--communicate frequently with customers. Look for ways to exceed expectations and make customers say "wow." Remove hassles--make it easy for customers to do business with Rackspace."
1. Don't criticize the people that are buying your product.
2. Communicate (a lot) with the people that are buying your product.
3. Don't just try to provide average service, provide excellent service: create "WOW"
4. Make customers want to do business with you (buy your product).
Simple stuff, right? Seems simple, but a lot of it is the soft stuff that is so very hard for companies to pull off. Look at the ratings of any industry segment's competitors; there is always a bottom-rated company and frequently the reason for the poor rating is that company's customer service.
More from the article:
4 Ways Rackspace Creates an Obsessive Service Culture:
1. Measure it. Customer service is reflected in the time it takes to resolve a problem, in the number of customers that renew or expand their business with your company, and in the number of referrals your company gets from existing customers. Rackspace receives 50% of its new business from customer referrals.
2. Pay for it. Rackspace employees' monthly bonuses depend on how well they serve customers. David Bryce, the company's vice president of customer service, is part of the senior executive team, and every job candidate in his division interviews with him, demonstrating the company's commitment to great service.
3. Motivate it. Public recognition of achievement--customer compliments posted on the wall, fanatic signs hanging above the desks of winners of the straightjacket award--gives individual Rackers a status boost among their peers, and something for everyone to aspire to.
4. Enforce it. If you're serious about service, then rudeness to a customer is inexcusable. At the same time, if employees are committed to providing great service, they deserve unconditional management support. This year, three employees left because they didn't "get" Rackspace's service ethic--and one customer was fired for being abusive to Rackspace employees.
These points are the Rackspace magic formula for creating a fanatic customer service department. Does your employees that service customers make a bonus? How familiar are the employees you have servicing customers with the company P&L (an their own division, team, etc. P&L)? Will your company fire its customers for being abusive to its employees?
Read the article for some great examples of how far Rackspace employees will go to service their customers.