Shep Hyken Blog

What is at the heart of delivering customer service success? In my experience, it comes down to the concept of amazement. This concept is an integral part of my customer service philosophy and I’ve outlined more about it in the updated edition of my book, The Cult of the Customer.

What drives amazement?

Delivering amazement to your customers may sound daunting but let me explain. It doesn’t require a WOW moment or an over-the-top customer experience. These are great when they do happen, but the real key is consistency. Customers are amazed by experiences that are consistently and predictably above average, even if they’re only a little bit above average. If your customers know that they can count on a good experience with you, they gain a sense of ownership. That is amazing.

What’s not amazing, however, is when a problem or complaint arises. The customer may lose that sense of amazement and begin to slide back toward uncertainty. All new customers begin in uncertainty before they know what it’s like to do business with you. Maybe they’ve heard that you offer amazing customer service, but they haven’t yet experienced it firsthand. Even after a series of great experiences, that uncertainty can creep back in if a problem occurs. The customer wants to know if you will take the action needed to fix the problem. Until you do, the uncertainty remains.

Turning around problems

The good news is that by handling the problem well, you can move the customer right back into amazement. This is good to know since problems are unavoidable. They will happen no matter what you do. Hopefully, they won’t happen often, but when they do, don’t sidestep the issue—show your customers they can count on you by handling it. The resulting confidence you build will stay with them even if there’s another problem later on down the road.

It’s worth noting here that you must handle a problem well in order to build confidence with your customers. I often talk about the five steps to handling a complaint. First, you must acknowledge and, more importantly, apologise for the problem—even if it isn’t your fault. Then you can move on to fixing the problem. Remember, you must do this both with a great attitude e a sense of urgency. Follow these steps, and your customers will stay in the Cult of Amazement.

On the other hand, poorly handled complaints will leave the customer stuck in that uncomfortable state of uncertainty, unable to regain the sense of amazement you worked so hard to achieve. They may start to wonder if they should be doing business with you at all, or if your competitor might provide them a better experience. Remember, problems will happen. It’s what happens afterwards—how you handle it—that matters.

How do you know when your customers are in the Cult of Amazement? Listen to what they say. The word always followed by something positive is the key. For example, they might say: “They are always so friendly and helpful. Even when there is a problem, I can count on them to make it right.” So be consistent and predictable, be a problem-solver, and enter the Cult of Amazement!

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker, and New York Times bestselling business author.

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