Almost all of the clients that we work with across the digital spectrum have clients of their own, both B2C and B2B. We are a digital agency and it’s only natural that we constantly harp on about the benefits of digital tracking, conversions and insights. But along with preaching digital best practice, we are firm believers in the value of good old customer service and know that this is something many brands are neglecting in this aggressive online era.
Quality customer service is noticeably lacking in many industries, ours included, and we have fought hard to create a team that constantly push the agenda of delivering outstanding service. Remember when petrol stations used to pump your gas for you and wipe down your windows? That old-world charm stands out massively when it is encountered in our modern age – simply because it rarely is anymore.
It is the barista that remembers your coffee order or the concierge who remembers your name in the morning. And then there’s us; the digital agency that works passionately with such focus that we have the answers before our clients have thought to ask the question. We have hundreds of automated processes and software to catch the day-to-day but it’s our human, behind-the-scenes attention to detail that makes businesses like ours stand out.
To illustrate this refined customer service concept in more detail, the hospitality industry, specifically hotels and resorts, is the perfect case study. Why else would they be able to charge over $500 a night for a bed? On my travels, I take time to step out of my day-to-day and look for real-life insights in various situations that could be applied to AndMine to further refine our customer service. I’d like to share three experiences that have helped convey to my team the importance of customer service and which continue to help our company grow.
I have been fortunate enough to stay in some of the coolest resorts that Dubai has to offer, where the demand for high-end service is expected and delivered. The staff, regardless of whether or not they are outsourced, have first-class service down pat. They will fulfil nearly any request and really do go the extra mile – and it unequivocally stands out.
Of course, they charge for their time but rightly so; the service is seamless. Resorts need foolproof systems in place to handle these ‘extras’ because, naturally, they add up. Clients are fine with a little footnote on the bill so long as the service is perfect (or as close to perfect as can be expected). If ever you leave a resort complaining about anything, the immediate reaction is to question the bill and any self-designated tip that the hotel may have taken the courtesy of adding. If, for example, they failed to deduct from your bill a late check-in discount (as they promised), it leaves a bad taste in your mouth to have to dispute this when paying the cheque.
At AndMine, we have built our systems to identify and catch exceptions but, in the end, it is our people who can smooth over turbulent situations. Clients can feel the difference in the little things that our team do and it is precisely these gaps that you have to fill in order to label yourself an excellent service provider.
Consider the moment when you are either travelling, shopping or eating and you ask an establishment if they accept Amex. The answer to follow will automatically reveal the level of quality to expect from their service. Have they planned to absorb the 2% merchant fees? Most Visa-only businesses haven’t figured out how to incorporate the little things that can make a huge impact on customer service quality and are failing to put the customer first.
This can be likened to stores using a non-intuitive ‘help’ service on a tablet rather than offering the guidance of a human retail assistant on the shop floor; or the hotel receptionist who tries to talk you through a solution over the phone rather than sending someone up to your room to tend to the issue face-to-face. What it comes down to it, great service is all about making sure the customer is the priority in every business decision. At AndMine, we accept Amex without surcharges. Why? Because in service, the little things matter.
Staying at Crown in Perth is worth the extra buck for their breakfast alone. It is the best spread I’ve seen and everyone eats and leaves feeling like royalty (one can only assume the Queen’s mornings are as lavish, but who knows?). The head chef ventured out onto the breakfast floor that day and I heard him say (okay, I was eavesdropping, but I did have a chat to him after I heard this), “The heater over the poached eggs is off-centre and a little too high up; if it is left here, the eggs will be too cool when taken back to the table.” He proceeded to make the appropriate adjustments to the heater and shifted his focus to the bacon. The attention to detail was astonishing. Bear in mind we are talking about mere centimetres of change.
This work ethic can be extrapolated to almost anything that you do. We should always be on the lookout for these insightful moments and learn to be vocal and proactive about problems to affect change. From my personal business experience, I know that it makes a huge difference to a brand’s culture. Of course, focusing too much on minute details can result in unnecessary nitpicking so it’s about finding the perfect balance to improve your service without significantly hindering your process.
When the reception staff at the W hotel in Samui forgot to organise my shuttle to the airport, they quickly sent their in-house car in lieu and made it complimentary. What I found very respectful was that they didn’t question me, despite not having an electronic record of the original request. They defaulted to ‘the customer is always right’ attitude, cordially asked about my flight and then made the right call. Knowing where to draw the line in cases like this is difficult to define: too soft and your company can get taken advantage of; too hard and you may insult or upset an honest customer.
At &Mine, we work hard to position our line around value – both for us and for the customer. In the service industry, clients will pay quite happily for extra time or product if you have systems in place to manage requests and expectations efficiently and transparently. If mistakes are made (we are all human after all), we know that quickly taking responsibility and working towards a solution goes a long way in retaining trust. We also believe that addressing any gaps directly with the client offers a smoother process than waiting for clients to explain to us where we have messed up. Even if 99% of the work is great, it is that 1% that will have clients questioning us, so we make sure we identify that tranche before they do.
As we move into a more digital, process-orientated world, it is the organisations that push personal service that will thrive. Encourage your team to consider the customer service they receive in their everyday lives and apply that knowledge to help enhance your own products and services. Seamlessly incorporating those little extras into your model will undoubtedly improve the quality of your service and will be duly appreciated, even if it means your customers or clients have to pay that little extra. More often than not, those clients disgruntled about paying for real value sit in the 0.1-2% percent that you don’t necessarily want to do business with in the long term. Successful client relationships are all about adapting; learn and improve your team and your value-based processes to handle anything and everything that comes your way with excellent quality service.
If you’d like to know more, please contact us. We help organisations optimise their systems to make the little things seamless.