Differentiate Your Customer Service or Perish

I am going to give you the secret to Customer Service. This is the one thing that you have to do if you want to use Customer Service as a competitive advantage. You will be shocked when you hear what it is, I promise you. It is not a specific application, or a channel you must support, or a certain function you must provide. Neither is selecting the proper people, training them right and empowering them. And, of course, it is not about collecting and leveraging feedback. Yes, these are all things I have written and spoken on in the past… and they are critical for Customer Service success. Alas, they are not THE critical success factor.

You probably heard of Zappos’ customer service, right? It has been making the blogosphere rounds lately with things like “pay your employees to quit”, “empower your agents”, and “deliver exceptional customer service across all interactions”. Their approach to Customer Service is legendary and they do a tremendous job of implementing all best practices they can get their hands on. However, if you were to do the same and implement all best practices known to humankind, you probably won’t be seen the same way. This is because you would be seen as a copycat, not an original, and not given the same credit for what you do. Why? Because you did not use Customer Service Excellence as a differentiator, rather as another way to get and retain customers. And that is the critical differentiation (no pun intended).

To become a master at Customer Service, to truly excel at it you have to find your differentiating factor. The one thing that will set you apart from every one else. That’s it. There is no preaching about how you must do a multi-channel implementation, or whether you cannot last longer than a week without collecting feedback. If you look at what you do, learn your strengths and work on your weaknesses — and constantly strive to maintain that differentiating factor you are guaranteed to succeed.

Are you differentiated? Tell me what you are doing differently and how it has proven successful for you…