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Quality Customer Service Does Exist
By Rosanne D'Ausilio, Ph.D., President of Human Technologies Global, Inc.

I just had what I would consider an unusual customer service experience. Why unusual? Because it surprised me--it was a positive experience--and the person gave me more than I asked for. This to me is the absolute definition of over deliver and under promise.

I was in the market for a flip video camcorder and Googled it. Then I went to the various sites comparison shopping. I found a site that was easy to navigate and had the best price. And they had an 800 number to call which I did. I was going out of the country 10 days later and wanted to know when it would ship, which carrier, and where it was coming from to be sure I received it before my trip.

The customer service agent answered each of my questions to my satisfaction. When I asked whether I should order it online or with her, I expected her to say it was quite easy to order online. Instead she said she could take care of everything.

When it became apparent that I was a new customer (because she asked me), she told me she was going to overnight the product to me, at no extra charge. I was shocked. Ground shipping was free which was one of the reasons I chose that site. However, overnight was not. But because I mentioned I needed it soon and because I was a new customer, she said she would overnight ut to me and I would have it the next day.

That has never happened to me before! Very impressive. I felt very taken care of by this customer service agent, and therefore, by the company.

Subsequently, coincidence being what it is, I read an article in the September/October 2008 issue of America’s Best. This is not a magazine I normally subscribe to but I was interviewed for this issue on the psychology of customer service. Whenever I am interviewed, I always request several copies of the publication.

The article I read spoke about this same company I’m writing about. When asked the question, “How do your associates put such an emphasis on customer service?” they responded by saying they’ve come up with a creative way to hire employees and ensure their dedication to customer service through their training program. Their emphasis is on creating a culture of fun and a little weirdness.

What impressed me was their philosophy. Once hired, these employees go through a vigorous two week training process. Nothing new here, right?

Here’s what different (or at least the first time I’m heard of this), new hires are presented with an “Offer” after they complete the training.

The company offers them $2000 to quit right then and there. For those who don’t, it speaks to their passion for customer service and commitment to the culture and company. How many take the offer? One to 2% do take the offer.

This company has learned a number of things. That there is a direct correlation between the customer service associates and their customers. As a matter of fact, this is key to their success. And my experience noted above supports their (and my) contention.

By separating the wheat from the chaff, you actually save money on labor which is your highest budget item. When you train employees and they leave during the first year (which statistically is the case), it’s a high cost. By allowing them to option out and offering them an incentive to do so, those that stay are going to be your best employees and your turnover rates will tumble (which is a good thing).

Because this was such a refreshingly great experience for me, I will answer the question I hear you all asking, “What company is it, Rosanne?” it’s Zappos.

About the Author
Rosanne D'Ausilio, Ph.D., industrial psychologist, President of Human Technologies Global, Inc., specializes in human performance management for contact centers, providing needs analyses, instructional design, and customized, live, world class customer service skills trainings.

Known as 'the practical champion of the human, she authors the best-sellers, Wake Up Your Call Center: Humanize Your Interaction Hub, 4th edition, Customer Service and The Human Experience and Lay Your Cards on the Table: 52 Ways to Stack You Personal Deck, and hot off the press How to Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch: 101 Insider Tips as well as her popular ‘tips’ newsletter on How To Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch! available at http://www.HumanTechTips.com. Reach her at Rosanne@human-technologies.com.