Saturday 19th January 12:21

Customer Care: Moments of Truth

In a survey of its staff, SAS, the Scandinavian airline, discovered that there were over 50,000 occasions a day when their staff interacted with their customers. Each of these occasions were opportunities to deliver great customer care. Jan Carlzon, president of the airline, described these occasions as "moments of truth". Here are 3 ways you can deliver outstanding moments of truth to your customers.

1. Increase your Stroke Rate

When you connect with your customers at a non-physical level, you are giving them psychological strokes that are as effective as the kind of physical stroking that we give pets and children. Psychological strokes comfort people, reassure them, and make them feel good especially in moments of crisis, disappointment, and delay. Strokes can range from smiles, nods and eye contact to more personal exchanges that show you have noticed what someone needs. In any moment of truth, the best stroke you can give any customer is your undivided attention.

2. Treat Everyone as Favourites

There are two extremes of customer care that customers dislike. One is the mechanical response in which you give everyone the same kind of treatment. The other is the selective approach in which you pick out those you want to treat better than others. In between these two extremes is the ideal customer care approach where you treat every customer as special regardless of who they are and their circumstances.

3. Use the Power of Understatement

People who are newly-trained in managing moments of truth often over-emphasise their care and concern for their customers. This can sometimes be so embarrassing to the customer that he or she starts to apologise for the fuss they are causing. With experience comes the power of understatement. Understatement suggests that the service you are giving is no big deal, isn't out of the ordinary, doesn't put you out and is perfectly normal. When you understate, you bring a touch of class.

If, as in the case of a busy airline, your whole day is spent interacting with customers, it is hard to make every moment of truth special. Yet, this should be the aim of all outstanding customer care. When you succeed, your customers won't know how you did it; they'll only know you did. 

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