“To serve well is to enter into a covenant with a customer that guarantees worth will be exchanged for worth and in a way that keeps central the customer’s best interests.” (pg. 35)
So says Chip Bell and I could not agree more. In his latest book, Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles, Bell uses the analogy of a child’s toy, a kaleidoscope, to illustrate some solid principles of effective customer service. As in his earlier books, Chip’s words and phrases are pithy and colorful, with many easily memorable statements that just beg to be quoted and digested by those of us who care about such things.
I see several valuable points in that sentence at the head of this post, each of which guides us beyond the common and tired sayings about customer service, while helping us aspire to a much higher level of involvement:
SERVING INVOLVES COVENANT …
I have only worked in one organization where this word was regularly invoked to describe our relationship with each other and with those we served. That non-profit provided help and comfort to the aged, families, and people in need.
To me, covenant indicates more than a promise, more than a guarantee … Covenant is a sacred duty to honor commitments and to treat others in an honorable way as you offer services and goods to them.
Covenant is also a relatively equalized relationship between you and another
WORTH EXCHANGES FOR WORTH …
Since we are talking about a relationship here, it makes perfect sense that we consider the values involves. Most businesses run on a transactional model: You give me something and I give you something in return. Nothing wrong with this, as long as each person receives what they expected to receive.
Worth is another word that pushes us toward a higher level of engagement. Worth goes beyond the mundane or trivial. Worth means something of real value. I offer my dollar bill and you give me an ice cream cone … we have completed a transaction. I give you my dollar bill, and without being asked, you add sprinkles (yes, a nod to another Bell book), a genuine smile, and a cheery “Have a great day!“, and now we are talking worth.
THE CUSTOMER’S BEST INTERESTS ARE PRIMARY …
Not “The customer is always right” because they are not, and not that the customer can ask for or do anything, but here we have a clear reminder that we are in our business to serve the customer’s best interests.
As a realtor, I sometimes serve customers who have a well-designed list of needs and wants, price range, and vision for their ideal house … then they fell in love with a fire pit (not on the original list) and all else goes away. Their best interests are served by helping them move beyond the emotion of the moment to reconsider all the other things they said they had to have in the house they buy and to look at their decision from the financial perspective as well.
Adding perspective to their decision may mean losing a higher commission, but I am serving my customer’s best interests.
Look at what I gained from reading just one page of one chapter in Kaleidoscope, and you might well think “Wow, if he can do that, I could gain so many more valuable insights from reading the whole thing” … and you would be absolutely right.
Enjoying another great book from one of my favorite authors in the Heartland ….
Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several best-selling books. Global Gurus ranked him both in 2014 and 2015 as the #1 keynote speaker in the world on customer service. He has appeared live on CNN, CNBC, ABC, Fox Business Network, Bloomberg TV, and NPR; and his work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Forbes, USA Today, Fast Company, Money Magazine, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Businessweek.
Images reposted with permission
Caveat: I received a copy of this book for review prior to publication. I now have a great stocking stuffer for family and colleagues this Christmas.