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Karlsrud is an executive, entrepreneur leadership, coach, management and development consultancy. He provides executive and leadership coaching and is a keynote speaker, author and workshop facilitator. He is also the author of "Selling by Design," a field guide to selling in the new economy.


Customer Experience VS. Customer Service

Mike Karlsrud

I have been asked several times lately to make a presentation on "something new and different about customer service."  Hmm, now that's a challenge!

Customer service hasn't changed in a very long time.  It's simple to do; be nice to people, solve their problems, be respectful, give them more than they anticipated and have a positive, cheerful, knowledgeable voice on the end of the phone.  But everyone has that already, right?  I mean, we have a customer service department already so what's the big deal?

Something has changed however- the customer.  

In many industries the customer has taken the mantle of power in our relationships.  They feel they have more rights, high (if not unreasonable) expectations, and they are willing to accept little or no risk in the relationship. On the other hand, we as sale and marketing people- fearful that we won't make the sale and therefor our numbers, bend over backwards to give away the farm to meet their demands.  

There was an old saying when I started in business "the customer is always right."  Let me tell you, that cannot be further from the truth.  Sometimes the are just idiots and clueless.  My new mantra is "the customer is always the customer, but they are not always right."  I'll still give them the nod of respect and politeness, but not always do they know what they are talking about.

How do you raise your customer service levels beyond where they are now?  First, this is no longer a customer service issue.  Its a marketing issue. Get marketing, sales and operations teams together and look at data.  Data will drive the experience you provide your customers.  Know your product inside and out. By "out" I mean "outside" your four walls.  How is it perceived? What does it do well?  What is being returned?  Why? What complaints are being handled the most?  How can you ward that off?  How can you teach your CS team to anticipate issues while on the phone?  Use social media data to understand the conversation around your product. Get involved in the conversation and take the opportunity to educate, clarify and do good. Use data to become intimate with your customer and create an experience for them that is better than expected, easier than they ever imagined and more informed and efficient than ever dreamt.