• Great salesmanship and great marketing can
make sales. But only great service can make
• With the boom in social media, customer
service is now the single biggest arbiter of
• So we’ve put together 30 of the smartest
customer service moves around to help keep
1 – Brilliant Basics, Magic
• This terminology started at airline Virgin
Atlantic and is part of their customer
service training mantra.
• Making sure that the basics are done
phenomenally well, along with sprinkling
some magic touches into the experience is
a great way to this about your customer
• Virgin Atlantic’s dedication to customer
experience goes right to the top, with their
COO explaining how the entire VA team are
trained to acutely observe customer
behavior and act on it
• For example, when a Clubhouse barman
saw an elderly lady struggling to eat a meal
on her lap because the chair sides were too
high, they were all replaced
• Even Virgin’s advertising plays humorously
on its legendary service ethos.
2: The Bolt from the Blue
• Many of the best customer services
businesses know that it’s a smart move
to call key customers occasionally
with no particular agenda other than to
see how things are going.
• If every call your customer gets is just
about day-to-day transactional business,
or to sell them more, they aren’t going to
• So put in a Bolt from the Blue
programme and schedule your team
to call a customer out of the blue, and set
targets for each person to have done,
say, 5 a week. Gather and share the
• Tom Peters is a huge advocate of this
approach, as he mentions in his book
The Little Big Things
3: Shop Floor Thursday
• Get your management on the phone,
email and live chat.
• If you’re a service business, get them out
on client site, on a given day of the week.
• This is the primary source of precious
customer feedback. It’s one thing
seeing a report on customer gripes; it’s
quite another listening to them first hand.
• Choose a day of the week where
managers from every discipline serve
customers directly, by either walking
the shop floor, manning the service lines
or answering customer emails.
• Try answering some customer tweets
personally on a regular basis for
4: The Journey Map
• Map the customer’s journey as they
enquire, buy and are serviced by your
company… then go where the
competition aren’t. There’s a ton of free
resources online to help you – Google
“make a journey map”
• It’s a fun exercise to do with your
team, and it can be done really quickly
• Once you’ve mapped the customer’s
journey, look at each touchpoint and
say “can we make it easier here?”
“what can we do at this point whilst they
are waiting to involve them”…
• It doesn’t have to be complex to
engender conversation and create a
ton of ideas.
5: The Mystery Shop
• What experience does your
customer have when she emails you?
Calls you? Visits your office?
• It’s incredibly easy to find out, and is
one of the 1st things I do when helping
improve customer service.
• Processes exist, but are they followed?
See for yourself what happens.
• This doesn’t have to be a major
outsourced exercise to be beneficial.
You can get 80% of the results in 20% of
the time yourself.
• Create a gmail address and email your
support team now. Or call in and ask a
sales question. Jot down ways things
can be improved and share them with the
6: The Feedback Demand
• Get feedback as often as you
• People absolutely hate
complaining, so they never do
• Know that a terrifying 96% of
people won't complain (to
you). But they will to all their
• What can you do to extract that
feedback? Everyone buying
from you has a view on how
you're doing. Ask them regularly
7: Customer Curiosity
• Make the customer part of your
business. “We consider our
customers a part of our
organization” said LL Bean in the
early days of the company.
• It’s amazing how many
organizations have an “us and
them” mentality about customers.
• Realize that customers are your
business. The more they tell you
about their needs, wants and
experiences, the more you can
outpace your competition by
meeting and exceeding those
wants and needs.
8: The 3 Ways Rules
• Instead of having hundreds of
procedures, try some unbreakable
• Create "the 3 ways we do things
around here" - a set of principles that
people can follow to help guide their
• It allows people to be themselves and
be creative within the company's
My first employer's golden rule book
extended to simply 2: "we will be the
best company in the world to work
for, and the best company in the
world to work with." This company
made software, so the rules had no
bearing on what was done, but rather
how it should be done.
9: The Show & Tell
• Drive home what your
customers’ custom really means
• Make them feel valued and
• It’s not difficult to get service word
of mouth by giving people
personalized welcome books,
giving them a mug with their
name on, putting some notes
into the system if they mention
something to you about a recent
trip so you can ask them how it
went next time around
10: The Staff Payroll
• Pay as much as you can
to get the best service staff.
• You can plan all you like, but
they will execute the plan
• Thank them personally for
their contribution. One MD I
know writes personal thank
you notes to each member
of the team in with their
payslip, telling them what she
specifically appreciated about
11: Know Satisfied Won’t Cut It
• 65-85% of the customers who defect say
they were satisfied with their former
supplier. So satisfied customers are
leaving you. Why?
• Because they are just that – satisfied.
They are not yet delighted. And
delighted is what is takes to keep
someone with you when others are
offering lower prices.
• That’s exactly why the Customer
Thermometer rating system has a “gold
star” as the top rating. It takes a lot for a
customer to rate you as gold. So if you
are getting “satisfied” 6 out of 10, or
“good” on your customer feedback, get
right back in touch with these customers
immediately and ask “what would we
have needed to do to get a 10/10 or a
12: Tales of the Unexpected
• Act on the feelings of your staff, not just
• Airline Jet Blue has a delightfully-named
People Officer, Dave, who is deployed to
areas where new processes are being put
it, or there may be some new things
• He acts on his initiative, helping the crew
members by providing customers with free
drinks and snacks, and by running trivia
competitions to give away free airline
• Central to his role is also helping to
explain to customers what might be
happening with any new systems, so that
there’s no possible irritation
with holdups or hiccups going
13: The Apology Plan
• Stuff goes wrong. It just does, it’s
• Have an apology plan anyone can
• The best customer service businesses
anticipate things will go wrong, and
they have a contingency apology plan
in place that all customer service
representatives have the discretion to
swing into action.
• Open an account with the local florist
so it’s a 2 minute job to order some
flowers for a customer you got it wrong
for. One of our large residential
cleaning customers sends the cleaning
team back to a home for free if a red or
yellow feedback is given, no
14: Personality Matters
• You work hard to employ great people.
• It stands to reason you shouldn’t
therefore ask them to hang up their
personality when they walk through
• Encourage humanity.
• Encourage everyone to indulge a bit
more in their character. This is what
my personal hero, Tom Peters, calls
“Service with Soul”.
• London Underground relies on the
individual characters of the people
working each tube station to do it.
Here’s a funny one; my personal
favorite, there are loads more.
15: The Critical Non-Essentials
• Dentist Paddi Lund created the idea
Critical Non Essentials
• CNEs are the things you wrap around
your service when the service itself is a
straightforward offer – they are the little
things that make the difference
• If you’re not a dentist, it’s hard to know
what quality of care you’ve had. But
Paddi’s customers have the perception
that the quality of dentistry is high,
• Why? Because their names and their
photographs are actually on the door of
their personal lounges, because they’re
greeted by name by their own Care
Nurse when they arrive
• What else could you do to add a level of
service around your straightforward
16: Train the Trainer
• Bring the people who consistently
get the best customer feedback
in your business directly into your
• Have them explain what they do
and why it works to the whole
• At software company Moonfruit, the
best customer service agents train
• Another of our customers Jack
Brunsdon & Son, makes and fits
windows, conservatories and
doors. He has the fitters who get
the best feedback explain how
they do it to the entire fitting team
17: The Thank You Note
• We get a ton of email these days,
which means that you can go
where your competitors aren’t
and turn back to the mail.
• Why not add the handwritten
‘thank you’ note to your customer
• If a customer refers you on, buys
from you (especially if they repeat
buy), pen them a quick thank you
note and pop it in the mail to them
• It goes a long way, and often gets
shown to friends and family, and
even shared on social media
18: Take Away the Strain
• McCurly’s is a car rental business on the
beautiful vacation island of Grand Cayman
• It’s so popular they don’t even have a
website, it’s all done through word of
• They have rethought the vacation car
rental service from top to bottom, and
make money out of making it easier for
• They take the car you rented from them
directly to the house or hotel you’re
staying at. Then they pick you up from the
airport and drive you there, so you don’t
have to drive tired from your flight. Best of
all, they’ll stop at the grocery store whilst
you stock up on those first day essentials.
• What could you do that would take the
strain off your customers?
19: Pimp My Ride
• We all love to be loved.
• Personalization hit the top of the
marketing buzz-word list a few years
ago, but it’s never really been fully
applied in the customer service
• If you can add a customers’ name to
service documentation or
deliverables, or suggest some things
they might like to do that suits their
profile, then go for it.
• My local car dealership offers to take
women to the mall and men to the
golf club while their cars are being
worked on. A small gesture but very
much appreciated when you’ve got 3
20: Top 5 Post-It List
• Over the course of a month,
have everyone who deals with
customers write a Post-It note
on any niggles or comments
made where things might be
improved, and stick up.
• At the end of the month, group
them by number into the top 5
and make a plan to quickly solve
• Then contact all the customers
who bothered to make
constructive comments, and say
thank you and explain what was
changed as a result of their
21: Time for Timeliness
• This most simple of moves can
completely stump your competition.
Getting back to people faster builds
gets them to buy from you, and builds
• If you’ve got a website, get live chat –
right now. We implemented this about 6
months ago and it has been a huge boost
to our customer service and the speed
we can jump on things.
• Customers who go to your website want
help or support right now – it’s the time
they’ve allocated in their day to deal with
it. If they just send you an email, and you
take a day to reply, your window of
opportunity has gone.
• Try it, you’ll be blown away.
22: Random Acts of Kindness
• John Bunyan wrote, “you have not
lived today until you have done
something for someone who can
never repay you.”
• Small surprises have a huge effect
and provide great word of mouth.
• Customer Thermometer’s Mark
Copeman tweeted this from his trip
to Dubai last year (the hotel noticed
one of his toiletry items running low
and replaced it along with a note
saying they thought he might like
another) and it had widespread
• Introduce a random acts of
kindness programme and give
23: Bin What’s Bland
• If your communications are bland, they
won’t be remembered or talked about.
• Seth Godin makes this point superbly in
his book Purple Cow. As he says, “boring
stuff quickly becomes invisible.”
• One way to combat this is to pull out
every piece of communication a
customer gets from beginning to end of
their relationship with you. Marketing
materials, email templates, packaging –
everything they see or touch. Lay it all out
and get to work on improving it.
• Don’t stop until it’s remarkable – in every
sense of the word.
24: Keep Your Promises
• Call back when you say you will.
Even if you don’t have the answer,
call to say you’re still looking for it!
• One of our customers installs water
coolers. They have a response time
of one hour to new installation
requests. But sometimes the
engineer they need to speak with in
order to book it in is on a job. They
don’t use this as an excuse not to
call in the hour – they ring the
customer, explain he’s working, and
commit to a specific time they’ll call
back with full details of the job.
• They have a 90% gold star service
25: WOW your WOM
• If you’ve done something groovy,
don’t keep quiet about it.
• It’s OK to publicize your
customer service approach to
really extend the reach of your
word of mouth.
• This is the packaging for Pret-a-
Manager’s gingerbread man
• Eaters would never have known
about this lovely story, if it wasn’t
on the back
• When in doubt, apologize! It takes a
lot for a customer to make a
• They need to take time out of their
day, find the right person or number
to call and then explain the situation.
• So if you get complaints or negative
feedback, make sure you train your
team to apologize first and ask
• An apology diffuses a situation really
quickly… studies even show that
customers can become more loyal if
they complain and you apologize and
rectify it, than if they hadn’t had the
issue in the first place.
27: Commune with Community
• Get involved in the life beyond
• An engagement with the local
community feels good for all
concerned, does good deeds and
brings real customer service
• The fabulous organization that is
Cleaning for a Reason offers free
home cleaning from its member
cleaning companies to people
undergoing cancer treatment.
• This means that when people are
looking for a cleaning company,
they know hiring a CFAR company
means they are also helping
28 The Ticking Clock:
• Give time, don’t restrict it. Make sure
each member of the customer service
team has time.
• Time to spend a bit longer on the call with
customers who need it (and who want it!).
Time to go to the other end of the store to
bring back a dress in the right size for a
customer to try on.
• Curtailing customer servicing activities to
the ticking of a clock means you are
narrowing your chances of success.
• In the supermarket Waitrose, if you ask
where a certain product is, staff are trained
to take you right to it, even if they are in
the middle of something else.
29: Tell It To The Top
• Your people spend all day
every day talking to your
customers. Ask theam how
to improve things.
• Harriet Green at global travel
agency Thomas Cook has a
“Tell Harriet” email address
open to all staff. She
received hundreds of emails
to it in her first few weeks at
30: Find Out What Your Customers
Want AND Give It To Them
• Your customers come to you with certain expectations in
mind. Make sure you understand what those are and
give it to them… and if possible throw in a little extra
• All the information you need to grow a profitable,
remarkable business is out there waiting for you. It’s in
your customers’ heads. Get their feedback in any way
you can, do something about it, and tell them what you
did. Ask any customer who isn’t raving about you
why they aren’t.
• Do that, in conjunction with a handful of the 30 ideas
above and you’ll be stunned by the results.
Inspired to improve your
• Try Customer Thermometer right now, for
• Send your first one click survey in less
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