Promises and performance are chief spotlights of customer service. Companies that over-promise and under-deliver increasingly are finding their reputations, and consequently their revenues, jeopardized. Conversely, companies that go the extra mile to meet or even exceed their promises are retaining existing customers while attracting new ones—often in droves. As the spotlight on enlightened customer service intensifies, buyers are gravitating ever-more-quickly toward companies that make their promises match performance.Mark Lusky
One need look no further than 31-year-seasoned pizza delivery person Robert Peters to get to the heart and soul of stellar customer service.
CBS News broadcast journalist Steve Hartman just did an “On the Road” segment about Peters, who lives in Tipton, IN. According to the report, Peters “got a much bigger piece of the pie this month when a customer gave him a tip much greater than 15% of the bill: A new car.”
Not heeding advice from his family to do something more financially stable, Peters pointed out, “‘…it’s my purpose in life — trying to make people happy. You know, when you’re delivering to somebody, you may be the only face they see all day…’…It’s that attitude, combined with an almost obsessive devotion to customer service, that has earned Peters a real reputation in town.”
In the report, regular customer Tanner Langley says Peters always ensures his customers get exact change, noting:
“‘He’ll drive 3 or 4 miles down the road in a blizzard just to bring you 15 cents in change,’ Langley said. Why does 15 cents matter? ‘It’s the moral of it. He didn’t want you to feel like you had to tip him because he didn’t have the change,’ Langley said. After so many experiences like that, Langley felt compelled to give Peters a tip commensurate with his job performance. So he reached out to the community and asked them to pitch in to buy Peters a new car.”
Hartman’s report continues, “In just two days, the good people of Tipton donated enough for a shiny, red Chevy Malibu, including insurance and gas money — $19,000 in total. ‘That’s the type of impact he has on people,’ Langley said of the community coming together…Peters proves the most important job in America — the only one that you know can make the world a better place — is yours.”
Customer service takeaways from this report are clear and compelling:
All the fancy Customer Relationship Management programs and sophisticated protocols need, at their core, to emanate from the basics: People do business with those they like, trust and respect. Sincerity, dedication and an unwavering focus on serving people must be in play. Obviously Peters scored high on all fronts. Customer service specialists who work to be liked, trusted and respected one-on-one with customers ultimately are the heart and soul of successful customer service.
Customers will reward providers of good customer service. In Peters’ case, it focused on an individual reward. But you can bet it helped Pizza Hut’s reputation and revenues as well. More often than not, the reward comes in the form of loyalty and longevity with a particular company because of the tireless efforts of top-notch people like the Robert Peters’ of the world. It’s incumbent upon those companies to ensure that these dedicated, sincere customer service specialists are rewarded early, often and adequately.
This type of customer service will ultimately become a primary driver of how companies fare in the future. Companies committed to customer service excellence and rewarding those on the front lines providing it will see the pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow. Those companies that don’t will just go to pot and become rusting relics of days gone by.
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Mark Lusky (aka The Happy Curmudgeon)
is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm. He’s a veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience, and author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage.