A business delivering the products and services its buyers expect, on time and accurately, is just the starting point for exceptional customer service. When delivered consistently, exceptional customer service can be a business' main growth driver and competitive edge because it leads to high customer satisfaction and retention. Exceptional service typically includes a "Wow" factor, and goes above and beyond customer expectations.
The best customer service providers get to know the personal interests and activities of their core customers -- not just their business interests, according to a January 2012 Smashing Magazine article. Customers enjoy doing business with companies and people they like. If your company's service reps take the time to ask about a top client's family, hobbies and interests, and other non-business activities, that alone could fortify the relationship.
Companies have to consider the costs of operating a profitable business. However, penny-pinching on one-time transactions can cost you big bucks down the road. A car repair shop that waives the standard fee for a flat tire repair may gain a long-term customer by delaying financial gratification. While the business is only out a few minutes of time and a minimal amount of money, the customer likely perceives that the company and its representatives truly value his business. When you don't nickel-and-dime customers, you also set a tone of trust for future projects.
Exceptional customer service isn't an accident or simply wanting to treat customers well. Intricate tools exist for companies to analyze the customer experience and build a customer journey map. A journey is an outline of everything the customer experiences, from initial interaction to completion of the buying process. Top customer service providers constantly look for ways to reduce sources of customer irritation as well as opportunities to enhance the customer experience. Tacky add-on fees, unnecessary steps in a registration process and delays in the buying process can all be irritants. Eliminate irritants for your customers and take advantage of moments in the experience to "wow" customers with perks. For example, an oil change service might give a new customer a free tire check, or a fitness center might offer a couple of free personal training sessions to new members.
One of the most compelling signals of exceptional customer service is when a service provider goes the extra mile to ensure the customer has a happy and satisfying experience. For example, you might help a customer find solutions from external providers that extend the value of what you offer. If an insurance agent knows a customer is searching for a new home, for instance, he might refer the customer to a realtor or a mortgage lender.