Curtis gives us powerful reasons to go from ordinary service to extraordinary service, explaining how it works and why it is successful. Most importantly, extraordinary customer service “costs no more to deliver than poor customer service, and it is free.” The problem, according to the author, lies in merely performing according to the job functions/description by transacting what needs to be done.
What is missing in ordinary service is the essence of internalized helpfulness and the spark that is so contagious in creating a spirited exchange between the customer and those who are responsible for the customer’s feeling of being well-served. The all too common scripted exchanges are ordinary. Employees who are trained to look for customer names and then call them by name or ask personalized questions (like if they are having a good day) fall short of extraordinary service. If an interaction becomes routine, the delivery falls flat. A better way is to capture and promote job essence that expresses genuine interest in customers, pays attention to detail, anticipates customer needs and conveys enthusiasm with a spirited sense of humor.
The book lays out seven foundational principles by devoting separate chapters to each principle. The reader is given examples and advice on how to implement these principles into their organizational culture. The seven principles are:
- Express Genuine Interest
- Offer Sincere and Specific Compliments
- Share Unique Knowledge
- Convey Authentic Enthusiasm
- Use Appropriate Humor
- Provide Pleasant Surprises
- Deliver Service Heroics.
I found the book useful and hope to see these principles at work in our shops, hotels as well as in our government offices and other nonprofit institutions. However, the book would benefit from a closer examination of personality and organizational culture. Employees who are overworked or managed abusively have a hard time generating a happy internal essence.
The book is a good read to understand how to improve customer service, but I believe it needed to delve deeper into the working conditions that also promote job satisfaction, which in turn also promotes better customer service.