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The Service Edge

by Guest Writter
J.E. Karp, Author, The Power of Service: Service Through the Eyes of Customers

THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT WHILE QUALITY AND VALUE MAY BRING THE CUSTOMER IN, GREAT SERVICE WILL BRING THEM BACK. Aside from increasing prices or decreasing costs, incremental sales increases result from two factors — repeat business and new customers. The question is, what is it that makes people want to return? The dynamic of the visit is the primary contributing factor. That dynamic stems directly from the quality of their first service experience. A nice smile, strong handshake or some chat about golf, are not nearly enough.


Whether the service experience is in person, on the phone or by email, if you and your people are not creating a first-rate, memorable experience for the customerthen your chances of seeing that customer again are greatly reduced. Share this thought in your next conversation or speech. Tell your employees that, “The People who come to us are just like you and me—they want to feel good!”

When dealing with potential or first-time customers, don’t blow your own horn. Rather, focus on the customer. Ask questions; listen to the answers and respond as you would want someone to respond to you. Let the customer know you like them—that you care– by the way you speak to them and through your body language and tone of voice.  Throw away the sales pitch, the jargon and everything else you don’t really mean. SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND MEAN WHAT YOU SAY. You must HUMANIZE THE PROCESS.

Service must be AUTHENTIC–you must really believe in your product and you must truly care about the customer’s needs. Otherwise, you will never achieve the service edge but one of your competitor’s will!

This applies to the CEO and everyone who has any contact with customers.  The CEO must get out and see what kind of service his or her people are providing.  Then the talk in the boardroom should include elevating service to a higher level, the level where the customer leaves feeling great. If that happens—if 90 to 95 per cent of your customers leave feeling good emotionally—think of the ramifications, the most important of which is, that customer wants to feel that way again.  That person will return for that reason, even if they do not realize it.  Reputation is built through the customer’s positive emotional response to their visit.

You can sit in your boardroom or at your desk studying all the sales and transactions numbers. Numbers may tell a story but you will have no idea if you are optimizing your market share unless you take a hard look at your service.

Service excellence must remain a constant. How? The answer lies in the level of EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION in your company.  Where there is good morale, people support each other and are more amenable to working as a team.

YOU BEGIN BY THINKING OF YOUR EMPLOYEES AS YOUR CUSTOMERS—AS PEOPLE.  It is very important that employees feel that their supervisor cares about them. Asking, “How are the kids?” or “How’s it going?” are overused, clichéd methods of connecting, UNLESS you ask one or two follow-up questions which show genuine interest. However, saying something like “Jim, were you able to solve that problem you were having with the insurance company about your car?” will show that you see that employee as an individual.

It is unreasonable for you to expect your employees to care about other people if they think you don’t care about them. There are many ways to demonstrate that you care about those who work for you, including showing sincere appreciation, instituting meaningful incentives and above all, GIVING YOUR TIME to your people by coaching, listening and pitching in.

If you want to grow your sales and profits, then systematically develop and foster your service edge, before your competition beats you to it.

About the Author

J.E. Karp is a businesswoman, small business owner and author.  Her life has been a journey from trauma to triumph. Having overcome a serious car accident, two heart attacks, a quadruple heart bi-pass operation, the trauma of a kidnapping and being buried alive for 16 hours, the subsequent PTSD, and finally, cancer, Karp has resiliently triumphed over adversity, while staying focused on her true passion: authentic service.

After graduating from Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Karp started her business career in Kingston, with a local McDonald’s Franchisee. In response to high staff turnover, Karp created the original “McDonald’s Hands-On Business Training Program”, which significantly reduced staff turnover and ultimately changed the way McDonald’s trained and promoted crewmembers worldwide.  Karp has created and taught Service and Customer Satisfaction, Human Relations, Leadership, Transactional Analysis, Listening & Communication classes for McDonald’s and at the college level. 

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