Great customer service is slowly becoming de rigueur, but until it’s the new standard everywhere (seriously, we can’t wait), we still need to celebrate those paving the way. Retail giant Amazon is leading the pack for good reason--the company is easy to do business with and even offers easy returns or exchanges. Here’s a customer service story I just heard from my coworker Sam:
I recently bought a computer for my mother from Amazon, but it arrived with a dent on the top! As her techie son, she always requests my expertise for these kinds of purchases. The dented laptop led me to more research and more online shopping; we found a different, lighter computer. I put the damaged one in the garage to return and accidentally forgot about it. When I thought about it again, it was coincidentally the final day of the return window. On the website, however, Amazon marked the item as already being beyond the return window. I panicked! How could I have forgotten to return this for my mom? Why does the paper receipt list one deadline for the return and the site list another? I got ahold of an Amazon representative via web chat. I explained my situation to her and she was super kind. The representative emailed me a pre-paid shipping label, even though we discovered my laptop was indeed one day past the return deadline. I shipped the computer back to Amazon the very next day and the refunded money was back in my bank account within 2-3 days. I was so relieved to get my money back on a computer that we didn’t want! I purchased my mom’s other computer from Amazon before the return experience, so it was a happy ending for both parties. But, can you imagine if my customer service experience had been different and had a negative outcome? We wouldn’t be shopping there anymore. A little compassion and flexibility go a long way!
In this case, the Amazon rep made decisions at that moment to do what she could to ensure Sam was a happy shopper. So, whether it’s bending your policy by one day to accommodate a busy person who simply forgot, offering free pick up on a return for someone who can’t get to a UPS store, or sending a pre-paid shipping label to please a disgruntled customer, agents must always be helpful, kind, and act like owners. Creating a great customer experience (CX) requires trusting your employees to do what’s right. You need your frontline reps to have the confidence and authority to do what they think is best (within certain guidelines, of course) to deliver the best CX time and time again. Hire the best people and instill trust and confidence in them to make things right. Give them the technology that enables them to do their best.
The Ritz-Carlton is another example of a brand setting CX standards. Did you know each employee is allowed $2,000 per day per guest to make a situation right or to delight a customer? They say, “...the money is symbolic. No one is walking around with $2,000 in his or her pocket. However, from day one at your job, you’re encouraged and empowered to fix or improve a guest’s experience, and you may spend up to $2,000 to do this.” They trust their employees to give every customer a fantastic experience, and they back them up in doing so.
Businesses like Amazon and The Ritz-Carlton are clear leaders in CX today and each is doing so in their own way. If they continue to surprise and delight customers, there’s no doubt their businesses will continue to thrive. But the bar is set high. What are you doing to create a lasting CX?