Crafting an Ironclad 'Serving' Strategy: 3 Simple Steps

Everyone tries to develop a Customer Service Strategy, which completely misses the point.
It’s not about “servicing” customers; it’s about “SERVING” them in a relevant & compelling way.

For all you “formula-ites”, here’s the strategic context that defines the importance of a Customer Serving Strategy:

Business Growth = Customer Retention = Serving Customers

So, how do you build a Serving Strategy?

Here are 3 simple steps that I used to help take us from a startup to A BILLION IN SALES:

Step #1. Deliver your Core Service Flawlessly 24X7X365. — Core Service consists of the primary product or service of your business, without which you wouldn’t have a business.

Core Service is WHAT you produce, like computers, automobiles and communications services.

The objective is to MEET the expectations of your customers by consistently providing them with what you promised them.

Consequences: meet their expectations and you get a ‘C’ on your Serving Report Card; fail to live up to your promise to deliver a working product or service on time as promised and you get an ‘F’ on your Report Card.

The ‘C’ doesn’t get you any loyalty at all because customers EXPECT a product or service to work as promised. The ‘F’, on the other hand, gets you foul language on reviews, a condemnation story to friends and loss of business.

The basic platform on the journey to an effective Customer Serving Strategy is to deliver your Core Service flawlessly EVERY TIME, because if you don’t you will never reap the benefits of Steps 2 and 3.

Step #2. Provide “gasp-worthy” experiences. — Assuming you have architected the appropriate Core Service delivery system to satisfy your customer obligations, you are now entitled to earn the rights of a gasp-worthy experience provider — customer loyalty.

Unlike Core Service which is WHAT the customer gets, The Serving Experience is how they FEEL when they get it.

It’s the Experience that enables stronger loyalty; it’s the return on the investment made “taking their breath away”, “dazzling them”
and “blowing them away” during the time the customer engages with you.

”Magical Moments” are created when the customer’s expectations are NOT met; when they get what they DON’T expect.

They are made when the customer is left speechless and SURPRISED by the way they’ve been treated.

These are a few dustings I sprinkled to build a culture of delivering Magical Moments:

  • Recruit people who have the innate desire to care for others. You can’t train people to “love humans”. You must discover the special ones who have the gene in their DNA.
  • Eliminate the rules and policies in your organization that make no sense to customers and which disable the customer engagement process.
  • Expunge the Grunge in systems and procedures that complicate the engagement process. The CRAP must go!
  • Empower your frontline employees to make decisions to transform a ho-hum moment with a customer into a breathtaking outcome.
  • Have humans as a backup to technology supplied service elements—like FAQ’s & Chatbots—for those customers who have issues that cannot be satisfied by a predefined algorithm (which in my experience is most of them!).

Step #3. Recover miraculously when you screw a customer over (and you will). — Now that your Core Service delivery is meeting your customers’ expectations and you are adding a Magical Moments engagement layer, you’re done, right?

Everything is now taken care of and the illusive grail of sustainable customer loyalty has been secured.

Nope. Nada. Nein. Non. Nee. Nei.

Perfect systems don’t exist. Perfect humans don’t exist. Predictable environments don’t exist.

Things don’t always turn out the way we intend in the serving customer world. Human error occurs. Mistakes are made. Systems breakdown.

Sh*t happens!

And we need a strategy to recover from the serving OOPS! and continue to build the customer loyalty we have worked so hard to build.

Here is another formula.

Serving Recovery = Fix the Mistake in less than 24 Hours + SURPRISE! the customer with what they DON’T expect.

The interesting—counterintuitive—result is that amazing recovery actually strengthens customer loyalty and the customer forgets (or at least is willing to FORGIVE) the screw up happened, they are so mesmerized by the after-the-mess delight.

Jaw-dropping Serving Recovery actions:

  • Empower and hold people accountable to fix the mess the customer presents to them.
  • Eliminate the organizational hierarchy and give the mess owner CEO power.
  • Measure how well you are doing to clean up your mess by asking customers who you’ve screwed over.
  • Recognize and reward “Mess Cleaners”; make them a critical part of the Serving Strategy success.

Final Formula:

Serving Strategy = Flawless Core Service + Dazzling Serving Experience + Jaw-Dropping Mess Cleaning


Related: Why a “Just About Right” Strategy Is Insanely Outstanding