Imagine a world without customer service. You wake up in the middle of the night because it’s cold in your house. There’s no heat coming from the furnace. You grab your cell phone to call the energy company, but the tower that services your area is inactive. Both companies have cut power to save money. There is no one to which you can call and complain. Let’s say you go to the grocery store, grab a cart, and start walking down the aisles. You find that some of the shelves have food but some don’t. After searching for help, you finally come across a store employee who is sitting on a bench, having a smoke. You ask, “Can you help me?” The person responds by asking, “What makes you so special?”

On your way home, you stop to get gas. It’s a self-help station, of course. As your tank approaches full capacity, the pump malfunctions and gas begins to spill all over the ground. You run into the station for help, but the store clerk irately declares you to be at fault before threatening to call the police. You end up paying extra to cover the cost of the cleanup and wasted gas so that you can avoid further escalating the situation. Later, you stop at a restaurant for dinner. The hostess eyes you suspiciously and says, “You better pay your bill. Go seat yourself.” You order a meal, but when your drink arrives you realize that it’s not what you had ordered. The waitress never returns to your table and you’re forced to flag down another one to help. She tells you to wait your turn for service. Shortly thereafter, a man lumbers over to your table and begrudgingly slides your overcooked dinner in front of you and says, “No more complaints from you. Eat your meal, pay for it, and get out.”

A world with a complete disregard for customer service, as this scenario demonstrates, can leave customers feeling victimized. Consumers who feel mistreated in this way are significantly less likely to invest capital in a store or corporation if they feel that even their most basic service needs aren’t being met. Stories of substandard customer service travel quickly in the age of social media, and companies that may not have incurred any public relations damage a decade ago are much more susceptible to bad press today.

The words customer service imply a degree of support to consumers who have already paid money for a product or service or who may do so in the future. All companies and jobs require excellent customer service at four levels:

    1. Product/service: It needs to perform as promised or fulfill the promise.
    2. Price: It needs to be honored as advertised.
    3. People: People need to interact with customers in a helpful and courteous way.
    4. Process: The procedures used to deliver the above to you must work extremely well.

How do you and your company rate in these areas on a scale of 1-10? (1=poor, 10=excellent) What are your strengths? Your company’s? What do you or your company need to improve? How you and your company answer these will determine the degree of success in the future. In summary, all excellence is equally difficult but not impossible!

By the way, do you want to improve your customer service? Check out our new book, SuperSTAR Customer Service. If you want your company to improve, try our proven Ebook, Designing a Superstar Customer Experience.