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Innovating Service With Chip Bell

Customer Care

The Power of Customer Access

Try taking the challenges away from your customers

Published: Tuesday, April 14, 2020 - 12:02

The “camp” where we board our cat is fantastic. Our cat gets “tree time”—a giant climbing structure with tunnels and carpeted “trees” to climb and scratch. She gets the best of tender loving care, complete with brush-outs and nail trims. But try and contact the camp hands-free from your car, and you run square into “punch one.” This forces you to dangerously take your eyes off the road or pull over into a parking lot to contact them. It is a small irritant, but one we face each time we are en route and need to alert them to get our cat ready for checkout.

Compare that small challenge with this one.

A guest sees more in an hour than the host in a year.

One Friday evening I arrived late at my weekend getaway home on a north Georgia river. Going into the bathroom to wash my hands, I noticed a small amount of water seeping out of the bottom of the vanity cabinet. Opening the cabinet door, I discovered the PVC drainpipe under the sink had cracked. An easy fix with the right part. I dialed the Ace Hardware store in the little town nearby, expecting the after-hours voice message to tell me what time the store opened Saturday morning. Instead, I was met with a big surprise.

“Good evening, how may I help you?” the friendly voice said on the other end of the phone line.

“Are you guys still open?” I asked in disbelief.

“Oh, no,” replied what turned out to be the store manager. “When I close up at 6 pm, I call forward the store phone to my cell phone in case someone has a hardware emergency. Do you need me to meet you at the store?” I assured him I only was seeking his opening hours.

As the Polish adage goes, “A guest sees more in an hour than the host in a year.” Be your customer. Call your unit and disguise your voice so you can examine how hard you have to work to get what you want or need.

Access is a part of the “convenience revolution,” as my friend Shep Hyken has labeled it. So, try taking the challenges away from your customers. Take an empathy walk with a customer willing to be honest to learn the details of the customer’s experience that are screaming for repair, the ones that we as service providers stopped noticing long ago.


About The Author

Innovating Service With Chip Bell’s picture

Innovating Service With Chip Bell

Chip Bell has helped companies dramatically enhance their bottom lines and marketplace reputation through innovative customer-centric strategies. For the sixth year in a row, Global Gurus in 2020 ranked Bell as one of the top three keynote speakers in the world on customer service. Bell has authored 24 books; seven are international best sellers. His latest book, Inside Your Customer’s Imagination: 5 Secrets for Creating Breakthrough Products, Services, and Solutions (Berrett-Koehler, 2020), shows how co-creation partnerships enable you to tap into the treasure trove of ideas, ingenuity, and genius-in-the-raw within every customer.