Seattle Times: a look at some of the best and worst in customer service

Today in the Seattle Times, Charles Bermant writes about the best and worst in customer service. He writes…

“… that some companies actually know how to respond electronically. And those who do so might not be the ones you would expect.”

Specifically, he describes his experience with his mobile operator as well as a friend’s experience with Shop-Vac…

“We have, however, examples of the best and worst. Ironically, this round finds a consumer-level garage appliance beating the pants off a major cellular provider.

I’m not surprised.

Some of the best customer service, I’ve found, comes in the seemingly lowest-of-tech companies and services… such as great hotels (where the best use the latest technology to know as much about their customer’s needs as they do to prepare their detailed bills with any number of arcane charges and taxes), popular restaurants and successful retail stores.

But I see that same spirit across many of the product groups at Microsoft, too. Whether it’s one of the staff in a product team with a popular blog or a group managing an early adopter programme on Connect, many employees and groups go out of their way to help customers and partners. Many groups run their efforts like their own businesses, meeting with customers to better understand their needs, working along side customers as they deploy and use products, and providing applicable feedback (often in one to many forums, as lots of people will run into the same issues).    

Entrepreneur magazine has an article that looks at the best customer service ideas from (way back) 1999, ones that are truly timeless…

  1. Hire The Right People.

  2. Make Service A Core Value.

  3. Empower Front-Line Employees.

  4. Solicit And Use Feedback.

  5. Pick The Right Customers.

Continues the article…

“Perhaps your first move, Berry says, should be to institute a formal measurement system to calculate the true costs of mediocre service. “If business owners take the time to properly measure the revenue lost to customers who left due to poor service and the extra costs involved in reperforming a service that wasn’t performed properly the first time, the number they come up with will be so large, it will never again be an issue as to whether service quality is important in their company,” promises Berry. “It’s instant religion.”

Food for thought.

Also of interest, Inc. Magazine’s Best Customer-Service Practices, a collection of links to interesting and helpful articles.

Tags: Customer service, customer feedback

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