Customer service is not a reactive art.

I have said this before, anticipating what the customer wants and delivering to them before they know they need it is high art. In this day and age getting great customer service should not be hard, we are more connected, there is more data on customers than ever before, social media allows for a layer of connection mass media doesn’t, and digital scales — a lot.

So why are people still writing about customer service? Because it just isn’t being done. When my wife and I drive to work together (which is rare but a treat) we tend to stop at a particular coffee shop to grab a cup for the road. This past week they have removed a barista from the staff, seemingly to save money since there isn’t a hiring sign in the window, which has caused BIG slow downs in the time it takes to get the latte — let alone the customer service because the two people behind the counter are “in the weeds” as they say in the food service industry. 

So this morning, the fifth day in a row that there were two poor souls attempting to get coffee for the mid morning rush and not doing a great job of it, I passed on the coffee and got it at work. 

Will I go back? Not sure, but that is where most customer service kicks in. This is where the owner would say “please come back we will make it up to you” or “service is our number one commodity, come see why it matters to us” but the problem is that they statements occur in the wrong order. 

Customer service is not a reactive art, it is a proactive one. 

Take the other side of the coin, a coffee shop a block from my office that has 5 baristas on staff — at all times. These shop is an artisan shop that takes pride in the coffee sure, but none of that matters if the experience is shit. This isn’t a post about who has the better coffee because like wine, beer, bourbon, and food — that is subjective. But treating the customer as if they are the center of the universe is not subjective, you either do it or you don’t.

Unleash your inner Yoda on this one.

Do not wait for there to be a problem with your brand for the great customer service to kick in because the ROI of doing it on the front end is so huge, not doing it will cost your business BIG TIME. 

Alligators react to the world around them, they wait for the world to act and then they respond.. Thought leaders and killer brands go on the offense and create the world around them, the ecosystem for the customer to engage in, and then engage with the customer early and often. Go on the offense today because you can’t cut your way to profitability and you can’t create a great customer experience after the customer has already had bad one. 

Eric HultgrenComment