My friend Derek Halpern of the blog DIYThemes recently had an interesting customer-service experience with Brita water. He bought a filter, but when he got it home, it didn't fit his faucet.
When he called Brita, its customer-service rep immediately said it would mail him off some additional parts that would make it fit -- for free, no questions asked. It didn't ask for a receipt or proof of purchase. He wasn't even asked to pay shipping. As Derek writes, "Win!"
This story got me wondering about why more companies don't understand that customer service isn't a place to simply meet expectations. There's never been a better time to build your business by blowing away customer expectations and providing surprising, astounding levels of customer service. Here's why: In our Internet age, it's never been easier for people to spread the word when they have a great customer-service experience. Many neighborhood forums online even have threads reserved for raves about local businesses. Providing customer service that goes the unexpected extra mile gives your business a chance to see customers generate positive buzz that's free and more valuable than the most expensive print-advertising campaign.
In a world full of anonymous, big-box stores, it's not hard to stand out on customer service. Send a thank-you note. Make a house call. Follow up on the phone or email and ask how the customer liked your product or service.
If there's a problem, go beyond fixing it -- offer a coupon, freebie, or other bonus to eradicate that customer's memory of being inconvenienced.
On the flip side, when customer service goes wrong, bad news has never traveled faster -- on Twitter, Facebook, and every other social-media channel and chat forum online. One snotty or clueless salesperson can sow a world of harm for your brand.
I know because I personally flamed Freebinar on Twitter recently, after its phone lines failed me during a paid Webinar I was holding. I was steamed!
To its credit, Freebinar reached out to me as a result and offered my partner and me some assistance and additional training. Which is another way businesses can now create amazing customer service -- by rapidly responding to disgruntled customers and fixing their problems.
It's a type of customer service that literally didn't exist until recently. If customers had a bad experience, they just went off and griped to their friends, and you never knew. Now business owners can know, and it's an opportunity to turn the situation around by showing you do care.
How are you making your customer service amazing? Leave a comment and let us know.
Related: Don't Make These Return Policy Mistakes