Sunday, January 9, 2011

3 Characteristics of Great Customer Service Companies

In January 2010, I posted about my sense that Customer Service become increasingly important as a differentiator—separating your business from the rest of the pack—especially with regard to customer loyalty and retention.

This January, I'm going to make a quick review of some of the characteristics that companies with great Customer Service appear to have in common.

First, a Culture of Customer Service. By that I mean a company culture infused with the thought that serving customers is a primary mission of the organization and its employees. This culture is not restricted to the Customer Service department (if there is one), but rather that each employee understands her/his contribution to the providing of good products or services as well as backing up the delivery of those products or services with excellent support. This culture recognizes the business fact that it is less expensive to retain customers than to gain customers, and encourages loyalty by focusing on getting customers what they need to have a long, happy and mutually beneficial relationship with the company.

SecondEmpowered Employees. This doesn't mean that employees can act unilaterally and impose their will on the company. It does mean that employees have a clear understanding of what they can do to help customers, and that they have been given the mission to provide great service. The employees' course of action is not defined by instructions telling them what they can't and shouldn't do, but rather what they can and should. Employees feel valued and respected, and make customers fell the same way.

Third, that there are Clear Feedback Channels. This means that customers have unobstructed ways to give the company their opinions, complaints and praise. There is little more frustrating than trying to give a company a compliment and having to jump through labyrinthine websites or phone trees to do so.

What do you think makes some companies—local, national, brick or click—real standouts on Customer Service? Drop me a comment.

Give it some thought.


  1. Excellent point on establishing a culture that promote customer service. It is essential that management across the board provide the appropriate support to make it happen.

    Empowerment is often misunderstood sometimes people think it provide a guidelines of what need to be done, but I agree with your point that it states what can and should be done. Besides each situation is unique therefore it is a challenge to come up with all the different scenario.

    More power to you.


    Will Lukang

  2. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Will. For me, empowerment means making sure people have a sense direction, the right tools, and the key language they need, then getting out of the way. Most people want to do a good job. The best companies recognize this, and let them do it. Thanks again.

  3. Great points Roy. An additional quality I have seen that makes companies stand out is the enthusiasm of their employees. When employees are truly enthusiastic about the company's product, service, or mission it shows in how they treat their customers - and it's contagious. Enthusiastic employees breed enthusiastic customers...and that is a VERY good thing.

  4. You've done a wonderful job of clearly and concisely communicating the common attributes of companies with great customer service. Because these ideas make so much sense, what's surprising is how many miss the mark.

    I find your third point particularly important. I often evaluate vendors on behalf of my clients. Part of due diligence is answering the question, "if there's a problem, how easily can someone with the ability to resolve it be reached." Surprisingly, even with companies that are doing everything else right, I often run into a seemingly impenetrable wall.

    These companies lack an open path to someone with the skills and authority to address problems that are outside the norm. I address this issue in my post, "Is Your Door Open?".

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

  5. Thank you for your comment, Joan. In agree that employee enthusiasm is key. Enthusiasm follows from engagement, and engagement flows from empowerment in my view. And you're right--an employee who is enthusiastic about the company and its products or services makes it more likely that I as the customer will be more in tune with the company.

  6. Hi Roy,
    Nice post! I would add that a company that understands the diversity of its customers and adapts to it -- wins loyalty. Culture, generations, gender, etc... Adapt to your customer!

    Here's some info for your international followers who want to better understand the differences in USA customers:
    Regional Differences of USA Customers

    Thanks for the insight you share in this post and for adding so much to conversations here and on Twitter.
    High regards,
    Kate Nasser

  7. Kate - Thanks for your comment and link. I'd like to think that when we say "customers" we do mean all of them, and that means paying attention to the diversity. Thanks again!

  8. Great post! I enjoyed reading this informative post. This is very useful. Wish I stumbled your site before. Thanks a lot for this valuable information.


  9. Thank you for your comment, Fern. You can follow this blog, of course, and if you are on Twitter, you can follow the weekly customer service chat by searching on #custserv. The chat takes place on Tuesdays at 9 PM ET. You can check in on the #custserv tag any time--there are some great questions, discussions and links. I hope to see you there.

  10. Rick - Thanks for your kind comment. The idea of having a "straight path" to a solution is one I come back to again and again. (See my earlier entry, Winding Path, Straight Path ( ). Without straight paths and open doors, those who are "in charge" never get the messages that customers—and employees—are trying to send, and are likely to miss the mark again and again.

  11. wao this is great and well informatics post thanks for sharing

  12. I agree with the number 3 characteristic of great customer service. When a customer raises certain complaints or opinions through a call, you must answer it right away, or else you’ll lose the chance of gaining their trust. If you can’t be available 24/7 for answering their call, you must hire an answering service company to handle this. This is a very smart strategic move if you want your customers to keep patronizing your products and services and if you want to last in the industry you are in. #Ruby Chelmsford