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SECRET #5: Give Customers an Occasional Miracle

Bell, Chip Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

you about your stay here at Children’s Memorial Hospital of Boston?”

The child smiled and proudly responded, “I did not know my doctor would be Chinese.”

The Meaning of Miracle Power

Delight your customer! Exceed your customers’ expectations! Provide value-added service! These have been the mantras of customer-service gurus for a long time. Such focus on “adding more” has raised the quality of service in many organizations. It has also raised customers’ standards for what qualifies as “good service.”

But what’s an organization to do when the budget-cutting ax is loosed and tight profit margins get even tighter? How do leaders avoid sending a very mixed message by telling the front line to wow their customers in the morning and announcing staff cutbacks and expense reductions in the afternoon? How can you add value when there are no more resources to fund extra added attractions? In a phrase: Offer the occasional miracle!

Producing the occasional miracle is different from exceeding customer expectations. Ask customers what actions would be value added in a given situation and they will focus on those that take the expected experience to a higher level—meaning those that make them walk away feeling “they gave me more than I anticipated.” Value added is the upgrade, the extra helping, the complimentary dessert. It is a linear extension of good service.

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CHAPTER 8 Trust Thrives When Leaders Lead Naturally

Bell, Chip Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

1. You want very much for your immediate family members to be open and honest in their dealings with you. You are eager to have relationships that lack suspicion or mistrust. Would you:

A. Periodically sit down as a family and talk through thorny issues and conflicts, openly resolving all you can on the spot, or:

B. Hire a colleague to prepare an anonymous, written attitude survey he would administer to your family members and then come to dinner one evening to present the results, still protecting each family member’s anonymity.

2. Using a participative style, you frequently have encouraged your immediate family members to help you identify ways to make home management more efficient and effective. Without warning, your spouse is unemployed and you must make major cuts in your family budget. Do you:

A. Ask family members to help you solve the challenges of the economic crunch just like you have sought their input in better times, or

B. Encourage your oldest child to join the army early and send two of the kids off to live with a distant cousin several states away.

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SECRET #7: Reveal Your Character by Unveiling Your Courage

Bell, Chip Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

Without hesitation, Davidson put the part into the hands of an employee and got the employee on the next plane to New Orleans, where he delivered the part and then stayed overnight before returning home.

Was Davidson driven by some official service guarantee or legal obligation? Nope. What was the cost to Southern Pipe & Supply? More than $1000. What possessed Davidson to take what any cost accountant would see as a foolish move? The answer lies not in the fanatical customer devotion and word-of-mouth marketing that occurred as a result of Davidson’s decision—those were the happy consequences.

The answer lies in his character.

“I have learned one thing that has made my business a success,” says Davidson. “You cannot live your values only during the good times. The real test is to live them during the bad times. Besides, the

$2.50 part incident was a good way to remind everyone in my shop about what is really important around here.”

The Colors of Character Revealed

“Character” is one of those vibrant words that can be used to paint many colorful word pictures. Webster’s really big dictionary has twentyeight definitions! The word is derived from the Greek word

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SECRET #2: Focus on Customer Hopes, Not Just Needs

Bell, Chip Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

house calls. Oh, you can take your sick computer by and leave it for repair. You can even sit in their reception area and wait while they put it in their “emergency room” fast track. They will even try to help you avoid their services altogether by first attempting to troubleshoot your problem with you by phone. But what will really make you a devoted fan is PC House Call’s seeming ability to read your mind!

The last time a friend of ours was in their ER reception area, owner

Linda Beneventi chatted with him in between the phone calls she was fielding with her remote headset that gave her complete mobility around the shop. Quickly zipping past “How’s the weather” questions, she moved on to questions that might have come from some think tank inquiry.

“Would you like to be able to interact with your laptop remotely

. . . like when it’s in the hotel room and you’re at a meeting, would you like to be able to call it on the phone?” “How does your computer make you angry?” “Do you ever use your modem with the air phone when you’re flying?” “How often do you clean your computer keys with that expensive can of air?”

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CHAPTER 9 Hopes Spring Forth When Leaders Foster Revelation

Bell, Chip Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF

his or her expectations. Customers make such revelations only if the front-line service provider demonstrates respect, understanding, empathy, and confidence. These qualities are found in employees who feel good about who they are and what they do, and that “feel good” can be nurtured by leaders who create a setting of safety.

Magnetic service leaders, in turn, create a setting of safety precisely by embracing the concept we are talking about here: revelation. In other words, they open up, exposing themselves to full view. This, in turn, enables front-line employees to better exude to customers the message of “you can be open with me.” Bottom line: leader revelation produces employee safety; employee safety begets customer revelation.

Revelation also means “an eye-opener or a surprise.” When customers reveal their hopes and aspirations, the service provider’s assumptions or conjectures about the customer are erased. Knowing the customer’s needs and expectations gives the service provider a target for good customer service. Learning about the customer’s hopes and aspirations positions the service provider to deliver magnetic service. The effect? As a customer might say, “Fulfill my requirements and I will return to you; fulfill my dreams and I will be devoted to you.”

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