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"Customer service" is the ultimate buzzword. 

It conjures up various meanings in the minds of consumers, employees, board members and survey companies.  

Organizations - beyond hospitality and food & beverage - have realized that serving customers, retail or otherwise, is more than just good business policy, it is great for the bottom line.  This has fueled sweeping talk and focus on customer service; and here we discuss that contrary to popular belief, it is NOT about giving away free stuff.

  • Lets take Doubletree Hotels for example.  I have heard people say, “They have great service- they give away warm cookies upon check in!”  Hmmm- does free stuff really constitute great service?  Sure, the cookie is a platform and perhaps a ploy to get the employees to interact with guests and hopefully smile at them (who can’t smile when a warm chocolate chip cookie is involved?) .  But unless the personal interaction is thoughtful, friendly, consistent, and accurate, the cookie might as well be a lump of coal...
  • If you must give out free stuff, make it purposeful.  A colleague of mine worked for a company that decided to up the ante on customer service in their retail locations.  So instead of defining and supporting service-friendly behaviors and customer friendly processes, they decided to give out free stuff.  Randomly handing out free bottles of water and mints to shoppers, and offering free bag delivery service: what’s the point?  Do customers really want this?  These items are all short-lived when customers are still charged a fee to purchase a gift card, or battling stodgy security guards.  
  • Southwest Airlines is a great example of giving free stuff...and backing it up with great service.  When most other airlines charge for seat assignments and baggage service, Southwest offers those services for free.  And yes, customers want and expect those services to be free/included with the price of a ticket.  This is the kind of free stuff that customers rave about because it is desired, and supported above all by great service interactions, processes and places.  

Granted, it is easier to order a truckload of free stuff and ask your team to hand it out to customers.  But if you can’t back it up with excellent service interactions, processes that support service, and a service friendly location, it’s all smoke and mirrors.

Are you hiding behind the curtain of free stuff instead of supporting and expecting great service delivery from your team?

How ironic!  We are offering a FREE template! This is actually FREE advice...and that's Great Service! 

Designing your customer experience [free template]

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