It seems to violate every rule of customer service, but imagine this scenario: A customer comes into your telecoms store wanting to purchase a particular data product. They’re pretty sure of what they want. They want a mobile hotspot device and a data package to go with it for their holiday in Cape Town. It would be the easiest thing in the world to hand them a WiFi device, take their money and send them on their way.
But what if your store also offers a better deal? What if mobile WiFi devices once were practical, but these days you offer a far more competitive data top-up package? The best customer service would be to say, “What do you need it for? Just to have data while you’re on holiday? Because the most cost-effective deal for you would just be to top up your existing package.”
You’re not giving the customer what they ask for, but you’re giving them what they need — the best deal on data. They’re going to leave your store satisfied, and impressed with your service. You’ve shown you have their best interests at heart.
The Service Opportunity — Take The Gap
A rugby term with a great relevance to customer service is this: Take the Gap. A good backline player is said to be one with ‘an eye for the gap’ — he can spot opportunities to break the opposition line, go through and score tries.
You need to be like a rugby player of customer service — always looking out for an opportunity to deliver great service.
These opportunities present themselves in strange ways. Someone I know named Graham worked at a computer store. A customer came in on a Friday with a laptop that had crashed horribly. She needed to prepare a presentation for the Monday morning and she was beside herself.
My friend Graham immediately recognised this situation as a service opportunity. This was a gap, and he took it. He loaned his client a new laptop for the weekend, loaded it with all the software she needed and told her to come back next week when she’d delivered her presentation. Then they could discuss what to do about the other laptop.
In the end, Graham was able to salvage most of her data, and she returned the loaned laptop. A year later, when the client was due for an upgrade, Graham’s store was the first place she went. He became her go-to computer guy, because he had seized his opportunity to deliver exceptional service. He took the gap!
Some other opportunities to take the gap, and deliver exceptional service include:
- At your restaurant, a customer requests a tasting board of small portions from various dishes, but it’s not on the menu. No problem! Create one for her, make up a price and serve it.
- Let a regular client take their car home from a service and do an EFT payment later once they get home.
- At your second-hand store, a customer wants a microphone, but needs to know that it works. You set up an amplifier and speakers and connect the set-up. “Testing… testing!” That’s great service.
- At your hotel, volunteer your time to accompany some foreign visitors around your town to show them some of the attractions.
In the words of Milton Berle, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”