Intentional Customer Service:
The Pleasure Principles
It starts with two words: “Avec plaisir.”
This simple French phrase is the foundation of my concept for Intentional Customer Service. It means “with pleasure.” It is the attitude every customer wants and deserves. It should be intentionally incorporated into your business delivery plan right from the beginning and should be the first thing every customer service provider in your company understands. The commitment to wanting to provide great customer service.
By not focusing on it, you risk great service becoming an afterthought and your customers will know it. By this I mean, customers can tell when your service is for their good or for yours.
But how do you provide service that reflects this vision?
Here are the four (4) main principles that your service should be built upon:
ATTITUDE – Are you glad to have your customers’ business or are they an annoyance to the work you need to get done? I know it seems like a ridiculous question but I have had to ask myself this question based on the treatment I have received from some front-line service providers. It has also manifested in the policies and practices of a business on the executive level. Rudeness, slowness, disinterest, draconian rules, unnecessary red tape, corporate apathy, and built-in barriers all are examples of what should be unacceptable service but what can become systemic issues if the positive attitudes towards the customers is not made institutionally from the top.
Example: Airlines are notorious for treating their passengers the way they treat our luggage; with disdain and disregard. From the boarding agents right up the corporate ladder, they seemingly, purposely make air travel as unpleasant an experience as possible.
People who have been stranded in an airport or crammed into uncomfortable seats with little legroom are also nickel and dimed for any convenience they can think of.
Don’t be like the airlines.
AWARENESS – Know your customer, know their needs, know your product and whether your product or service meets their needs. When you lack awareness, you could be catering to the wrong demographic, you could be trying to sell something your target customers have no interest in. It will be infinitely better for you to know as much as possible before wasting time and resources on things that won’t matter to your intended customers.
Example: New Coke. For those that remember, the Coca-Cola company decided it needed to update its #1 selling product and offer its extremely loyal customers something new.
They didn’t know that their customers didn’t want their Coke changed. But they quickly learned.
ACCURACY – Getting it right is the least of the expectations from your customers. It is literally what they pay for. Any dining customer will tell you, all they want is what they ordered. Delivering less than or inaccurate products is not giving the customer what they want. Why would a customer in that situation want to return? It is critical that your service delivery is accurate. It is OK to sometimes offer them more, but to give them less is a recipe for doom.
Example: A scene in the movie “Lethal Weapon 2,” focuses on getting the wrong order from the fast food drive-thru.
It was instantly a classic scene because it is a universally frustrating and relatable occurrence. It has happened to me too…can you be trusted to provide what you claim you sell?
ACCOUNTABILITY – No human is infallible. Nothing created by fallible humans can be completely and eternally infallible. Knowing this means you have to be able to accept, correct, and improve when those inevitable human mistakes happen. Never be known for passing the buck, that’s a sure way to lose your customers’ faith in your business and service. Also, how you respond and recover can keep your current customers loyal, help your company to gain new customers, and grow your brand as one with integrity and a customer first policy.
Example: Let’s revisit the New Coke fiasco. How did the company respond? They owned up to the mistake, reissued the original Coke as a “Classic” and turned their marketing toward those who were nostalgic for Coke and the associated cultural memories with it. The result, a return to the top and a greater market share.
I hate Coke, by the way…
If you are looking to rev up your customer service, drive your reputation through the roof, or grow your company, remember: “Avec plaisir” and the Pleasure Principles.