If Michelin stars were awarded for customer service, how would you rank?
Michelin stars are the most highly respected restaurant ratings, composed of a three star rating system:
- One star * A very good restaurant in its’ category
- Two star ** Excellent cooking that is worth a detour
- Three stars *** Exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey
When relating this to customer service do you strive for the three stars, giving exceptional service that is worth a special journey for your customers? This could be the difference between one time buyers and loyal customers who come back to purchase from you again and again.
So what counts as one, two and three star service in the customer service sector?
One star * Very good customer service for the industry you are operating in. Good customer service is about sending your customers away happy. It is the service level that they expect and anything below this is a disappointment. A good example would be a customer walking into your shop to buy kitchen appliances, you would ask if they need help, you show them the products and alternatives, you apologise if you don’t have specific items in stock and you always ask if there is anything else that you can help them with. Any purchases they have made you help them carry to their vehicle and you are quickly reactive to their needs. If they are in your area you want them to remember your service and thus get them to return because they know they will have a good experience.
Two star ** Excellent service that is worth a detour. This is good customer service stepped up a notch, customers are very satisfied with your service and you exceed their expectations. You treat them as a human being and not just a number, you are pro-active rather than reactive meaning you can anticipate their needs and provide solutions for them immediately. Using the same example as above, a customer walks in to buy kitchen appliances, you do everything mentioned previously but go that extra bit further. You bring the catalogue to them, you make suggestions and provide advice, if it isn’t in stock you look for other stores where it is and seek delivery methods. You do everything in your power to ensure they leave with what they are looking for. You provide your own personal help, tell them your name and that if there is anything else you can help them with they can always contact you. When they make a purchase you carry all of their items out to their vehicle for them so they haven’t got to worry. You have left a lasting memory so that even if they have got to travel a bit further to go to your store, they always will because they know they will receive top quality service where they haven’t got to worry.
Three star *** exceptional service which is worth a special journey. This is personalised service which goes above that which is expected. It is service which pays attention to tiny details and makes the customer feel like they are the only person in the store. You really put yourself into your customer’s shoes and understand exactly what they want and how they are feeling. It is service which is unexpected, a customer should feel surprised by the level of attention which they receive and it is all about the strong relationship that you form with them. You need your staff to have a three star mentality, always striving to do better. A perfect example is the Ritz-Carlton hotel, an author named John DiJulius tells an inspiring story of when he left his laptop charger there after his stay.
“I left The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota in such a rush for the airport that I forgot my laptop charger in my room. I planned to call when I got back into my office, but before I could, I received a next-day air package from The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota. In it was my charger, with a note saying, ‘Mr. DiJulius, I wanted to make sure we got this to you right away. I am sure you need it, and, just in case, I sent you an extra charger for your laptop.” The note was signed by Larry K. Kinney, in Loss Prevention.”
So how can you improve?
Take time each week to review what went wrong or what could have gone better. Work to find solutions that ensure any mistakes or shortfalls in service are learned from and not repeated. You could even allocate a small budget for compensation to ensure you give your customers exceptional service every time. Employee empowerment is key to excellent customer service because top service is tailored to a customer’s individual needs and personality, it is not a one size fits all approach. It is great to give staff structure and guidelines for how they should behave, but you should let them creatively resolve problems themselves. This enables them to provide tailored service to make your customers feel special, and that can’t be found in the rulebook.