The Little Things that Serve: A New (Ongoing) Series

The beginning of a series on "The Little Things That Serve" - analysis of small customer service stories - good and bad by those who tell them. So businesses can learn. Please take the survey at the end of the post
Written by Paul Greenberg, Contributor

I spend a lot of time analyzing enterprise applications, ripping apart and putting together strategies and programs that are customer-facing on their surface. I spend a lot of time looking at the broad brush strokes and the big picture; at the processes and practices that are involved in the implementation of wise (and not-so-wise) CRM and SCRM practices. I spend tons of time thinking about and trying to refine and understand what a proper definition of Social CRM is – and to that end, I have three client-sponsored white papers/digital guides that will be coming out this year that will make it quite clear at least what I think, no, what I know Social CRM (SCRM) is. But there is one thing that I don’t do nor do a whole lot of my colleagues do which is to discuss the actual little things that comprise a customer service experience. I’m not talking about the quantifiable results of surveys. Bruce Temkin does a brilliant job of those – better than anyone I know or know of.  I’m not talking about the meeting of benchmarks or KPIs.  I’m talking about the service experiences we all have day to day in a small way. A great smile from a CSR we’ve just met in person. A helpful hint. An easy navigation to an answer to a question. An on-time or early delivery.  I’m also talking about the context that creates the value. I’m talking about how we feel when we have this experience. But I’m not just talking about the good experiences. I’m also talking about the bad ones.  And how we feel when we have them. But the idea isn’t just to recount, but to dissect a little so we can find out what’s universally good or reprehensible about the experience too. Learn our lessons from the little things. So here’s the idea. I’m going to initiate a series which will ultimately become a location on my website as soon as the site launches (at an unnamed time in 2012). This series will focus on the little experiences we all have when it comes to customer service interactions. ANYONE can contribute and it will go into a good or bad bucket. But I want to have a format if you don’t mind.

The Format

It would be like this:

  1. A brief title
  2. The experience
  3. Did it meet, fail to meet, exceed expectations (1-10)
  4. The name of the company in parenthesis
  5. A rating from 1-10 with 1 horrendous and 10 superlative
  6. A brief analysis/lesson learned for a company

I’m going to start this with a simple story and then let you go from there with an embedded survey that will aggregate all this: Let’s party!

Fridgefilters.com Does What I Need and Want. Period.

The story: I have a really good Kitchenaid refrigerator.  Like other refrigerators that have water and ice makers, it needs filters that have to be purchased. To do that I go to a website called fridgefilters.com That company sells, guess what, refrigerator filters.  I do the following each time I go:

  1. I log in
  2. I purchase two filters
  3. I have it ground shipped to me
  4. I make sure that the notification I set up when I first went to the site, “remind me every six months”, is still on (always is)
  5. I log out.
  6. Roughly a week later, like clockwork, the filters show.
  7. Six months later, I get notified
  8. Rinse, repeat, rinse repeat.

As long as this company consistently meets my expectations, and delivers a. the filters when I expect them and b. the notification when I need it, I have no need, nor do I have any desire to go anywhere else. What makes this interesting is that this is a small task that benefits by consistent, repetitive successful processes. Could they do something more successfully? Not really.  Oddly, they delight me by meeting my expectations which is that the process will consistently work. Lesson learned: Customers will stay with you and actually be loyal if you do what they expect consistently – especially the small stuff which has low expectations. Repeatable processes work well here. Something better?: Not really. Rating: 9/10 Expectations: It meets my expectations. Fill in your own story with this Survey Monkey Survey. If you give me permission, I’ll put your story into this series.

The Survey/Story

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