Going above and beyond is often what it takes to improve customer satisfaction. Doing enough is okay, but exceptional service calls for exceptional measures.
A great example of the need to improve customer satisfaction comes from my travels. I was staying at a boutique hotel in London and brought a stack of books to the concierge. I asked the young man, “How much it will cost to ship these books back to my home in Singapore?” He promised to have an answer for me by evening. I left for the day with a smile, pleased with efforts to improve customer satisfaction.
When I returned that afternoon, the concierge handed my books back and said, “Thirty-two pounds fifty pence.”
I was tired, said “Thank you,” and went up to my room. But I did not smile. And I did not give him a tip, seeing the need for the concierge to improve customer satisfaction.
The next morning I returned to the concierge desk. I was greeted by a very different and somewhat older man. He asked, “Is there anything I can do to assist you?”
I mentioned the previous day’s conversation and asked for directions to the post office. He replied with a question: “Mr. Kaufman, is this an urgent package?”
“No,” I answered. “I’ll be traveling for eight more days in Europe before returning to Singapore.”
“In that case,” he said, “I’d like to do a bit more research for you. May I do so and give you the results later today?”
I agreed, but I did not smile. And I did not leave a tip, but was intrigued by the attempt to improve customer satisfaction.
When I returned in the evening, a two-page letter from the older concierge was waiting in my room that demonstrated exactly how to improve customer satisfaction. Printed neatly on hotel stationery, it read:
Dear Mr. Kaufman,
Welcome back. I hope you had a good day.
Your books may indeed be sent via the post office for thirty-two pounds fifty pence and will arrive in seven to ten days. The post office is on my way home from the hotel and I would be glad to post them for you tomorrow, if you wish.
Insurance is available at five pounds per hundred valuation and a registered receipt is three pounds. If your books are valuable, I would recommend both.
Should you prefer a more economical route, you may send your package home by sea. The cost is eight pounds twenty-five pence, and delivery takes four to six weeks. However, shipment by sea does not allow for insurance or registered receipt, and if your books are of value, I could not recommend this in good faith.
The post office will make one attempt to deliver your package in Singapore. If you are not home they will leave you a note. You must then visit the post office personally to collect your package.
Given your frequent travel schedule, I understand this may not be convenient for you. Therefore, I have taken the liberty of contacting the international courier services. All feature competitive pricing and can deliver your books within three to four days.
If you are not home, the courier services will leave you a note but then (and here’s the difference) they will bring the books back to your home at your convenience.
The rate for shipping via courier is forty-two pounds, including a signed receipt and insurance for up to one hundred pounds valuation.
Whichever manner of shipment you choose, your books must be properly packed. We will be glad to do this for you here at the concierge desk.
Mr. Kaufman, I trust this information is helpful to you when making a decision on how to ship your books back to Singapore.
We appreciate that you are staying with us and are grateful for this opportunity to serve you.
PS: If you would like to have your books shipped three or four days hence, thereby assuring you are personally at home to receive them, I can hold the package for you at the concierge desk and ship it on a forward date of your choosing. I can then send you full details of your postal receipt or courier airway bill by e-mail and by fax.
In the morning, I visited the Concierge Desk and gave the older man my instructions. I also gave him a smile.
And a very big tip. He knew exactly what was needed to improve customer satisfaction.
Key learning Point to improve customer satisfaction
There is a big difference between doing what’s “expected” and what’s “appreciated,” between answering a question and solving a problem, between completing what’s required and doing what’s desired. The differences can provide the leverage needed to improve customer satisfaction.
Action steps to improve customer satisfaction
Look at the range of help, support, ideas and information you give other people during your day to find areas to improve customer satisfaction. Now find ways to give a little more to improve customer satisfaction. How can you be more helpful, proactive, robust, informative, considerate, educational or convenient? How can you make their lives a little easier, faster, smoother, more comfortable or productive? Listen to what other people ask for. Then give them what they want, plus a little more to improve customer satisfaction.