National Customer Service Week is October 7-11, 2013. It is a week we spotlight the power and prosperity found in delivering an innovative customer experience. In the days leading up to Customer Service Week we will offer a key principle you can use to elevate the delight in your customers’ experience. Today, we continue with The Campfire Story Principle.
Preferred Office Products, a major office supply chain in Dallas, Texas invites selected customers to their annual customer appreciation day. A part of the festive day includes allowing the invitees to work with their supply chain contact person actually filling the customer’s supply orders. The company founder and creator of the idea, the late Jim Miller, was fond of saying, “We all learn from each other. The customer sees the world from the order clerk’s perspective; the clerk gets to better understand the customer’s concerns. Everyone wins because everyone learns.” President Mike Miller has continued his dad’s vision of making customer learning a centerpiece.
Customers worry about getting behind and not being able to change fast enough. And, “becoming obsolete” both professionally and personally has a dramatic impact on our livelihood and our lives. Edwards Deming put his finger on the requirement for constant learning when he wrote: “Learning is not compulsory—neither is survival.” Customers are increasingly drawn to service providers who work as hard to help them keep up as they do in their own efforts to modernize. Today’s marketplace reality dictates that those relationships that learn together, earn together.
What can you do to use the CAMPFIRE STORY Principle? Be a customer mentor. Be more of an escort to insight and discovery than an expert with information. Look for artifacts in the customer’s experience that can be turned into devices for learning—a Styrofoam coffee cup with a teaching point printed on it or an FAQ (frequently asked questions) sheet to accompany a product the customer purchases. If a world-class mentor ran your business for a week, how would it improve? Change call center farewells from a closed-ended “Is there anything else I can help you with?” to an open-ended “What else can I help you learn more about today?” Customers love to learn if the journey is more like a campfire story than like a chore.
Coming up tomorrow...The Fly Fishing Principle. You don’t want to miss this one!