What big businesses can teach us about customer service

This is a guest post by Rob Young at MOO.

Whether you’re a big business, a start-up or a family-run company, providing excellent customer service is something we all aspire to. Good customer service needn’t cost the earth, so while you mightn’t have the budget of a big name company, it is possible to take key learning from some of the biggest businesses around, such as Amazon and Apple and apply them to your own business.

Call in the Experts

In 2005, British retailer Marks and Spencer announced their collaboration with Mary Gober in a bid to better their customer service in the wake of a dip in sales. Gober, dubbed the ‘Martha Stewart of customer relations’, promotes a can-do attitude and teachers service providers to banish words such as ‘unfortunately’ and teaches people to follow a template when talking to customers. Over the course of her time with Marks and Spencer, Gober trained 65,000 workers in her four-step method which included practices on not passing the buck, staying in the black positive ‘can do’ circle and avoiding the red circle of negativity, and generally giving the customer the best service possible. Whilst not every business is able to pay the $1million Gober is rumoured to have received from Marks and Spencer, it is possible to take key learnings from her in terms of the language used when speaking to customers and the attitude we have in our approach to dealing with customer complaints.

Give the Customer What They Want

Regularly topping lists of the best customer service providers, Amazon is a prime example of a business that keeps its customer in mind, a literal demonstration of this is the empty seat that features in board meetings as a reminder of the customer. The One Click shopping function allows customers to make purchases quickly and simply; while the option to leave reviews helps the customer become fully informed by their peers. Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos places so much importance on the customer that he expects all his employees to be able to interact with them, a reminder that good customer service is important at every level. Making small changes to your site to improve functionality can go a long way. The fewer steps there are to making a purchase the better, plus offering reviews can make the customer more likely to put their trust in you.

Take a Bite of the Apple

The Apple Store’s ‘5 steps of Service’ is a successful model that any business can learn from. From the minute a customer walks into the store the staff aim to provide the very best customer experience possible. As Forbes points out, Apple practices a 5 pronged program for customer service excellence which sees the employee take steps firstly by welcoming the customer into the store, before politely asking what the customer needs. The employee then aims to find a solution for the customer, listens to any issues or concerns they may have and tries to solve them before wishing them a fond farewell. These five steps are not restricted to just stores, but can be implemented through any medium, such as over the phone or via email. Providing solutions to customers’ problems in a helpful and attentive manner will make them feel valued.

So, no matter what the size of your business, taking an approach similar to these big names could give you a different perspective on customer service and help you deliver to higher standards.



This post was written by Rob Young at MOO, the digital printer and business card specialists. To start creating truly remarkable products visit MOO online today.

4 comments On What big businesses can teach us about customer service

  • I’d love to learn a little more about Mary Gober’s 4 step model.

    • Sorry James, I can’t offer anymore info on that and I was curious too. However, I did find a 2005 article from The Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com/money/2005/oct/15/careers.work3) which provides the following guide to Mary Gober’s approach.

      A guide to Gober’s methods

      1 We’re all in the business of customer service.

      2 You can divide your life into three concentric circles. The first, inner circle is what you can control and do; the next is what you can influence but cannot control; while the third, outer circle represents what’s outside your control. The knack is to expand time in circles one and two.

      3 Even in situations where you have no control over events, you can still choose your reaction.

      4 Don’t think you’re powerless – it only turns you into a victim, leaving you unfulfilled in your work.

      5 Be confident and assertive; always strike a balance between your needs and those of your customer.

      6 Communicate what can be done in an upbeat, courteous, confident language – you and the customer will feel better.

      7 It’s natural to bitch and complain and feel sorry for yourself. The key is how quickly you snap out of it.

      8 Most workers are not driven to reach great heights.

      9 Getting through tough times builds confidence.

      10 Be a “can do”, solution-orientated person.

      11 Good attitudes: listening deeply, being gracious and empathetic, communicating clearly and assertion.

      12 Bad attitudes: problem-orientated, interrupting, rude, vague, passive or aggressive, defensive and withdrawn.

      13 A compelling vision, mission or sense of purpose is a vital first step to ensuring motivation to achieving goals.

      14 If an organisation’s mission is overly complex and without spirit, it will just be ignored.

      15 People do not leave organisations, they leave managers.

      16 Customer service is about people helping people competently, genuinely and enthusiastically.

      17 Take personal ownership and responsibility for every customer’s satisfaction and loyalty.

      18 Be optimistic rather than resigned and pessimistic. Optimism fuels motivation, stamina and creativity.

      19 Adopt an open and positive stance towards criticism. See it as a gateway to improved relationships.

      20 Look after your self-esteem – it provides you with the confidence and desire to make the difference.

  • Always great to learn from others -and yet, equally great to come up with approaches and service that work best for – specific to – our own customers.

    Annette 🙂

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