Wow Customers with Anticipatory Service

November 25, 2013 Business and Management 1 comment

Wow Customers with Anticipatory Service
Courtesy of Rewire Me

I was totally floored by a blog post by Jackie Huba of Church of the Customer.

In her post, Huba recounted how Nordstrom – a beacon of premium customer service in the US – upped the ante by replacing her worn-out loyalty card with a new one sent to her home without any prompting. All it took was for Huba to remark that her card was old and presto! A new card was delivered.

Incidentally, Nordstrom’s service motto is simply…

Rule #1: Use your good judgement in all situations. There will be no additional rules.

How cool is that!

While stories of heroic PR stunts may hog the headlines, it is the unspoken proactive acts of heartfelt service which truly wins brand fans.

These little actions can do a lot more in delighting customers than birthday promotions, one-for-one specials, fire sales, or any other “member’s only” specials that are offered to like 100,000 others.

The challenge however is this. How can one gear one’s enterprise to be as forward looking as Nordstrom, Zappos or other service savants?

Let me propose some ideas to start with.

Customer Friendly Everything

First, consider making customer centricity the main focus of your organisation. Give it such primacy that everything else becomes a pale second.

Don’t just draw a reverse organisational chart with the customer at the top – eat, live and breathe it! In other words, design your processes, forms, and customer-interfaces (physical or online) to be as simple and easy for your customers.

Better yet, do it for them!

Be Super Responsive with Chat

In the digital and social age, being quick to respond can make a world of difference in how your customers perceive you. An hour in digital time can seem like a day in a physical world!

To do so, you can consider using chat apps like Facebook Messenger to take the conversation offline and build rapport. You may also incorporate a live chat software to instantly communicate with your prospective customer. Here’s a list of the 10 best live chat software compared – see which could possibly meet your needs.

Empower Frontline Officers

Next, empower and equip your frontline officers to do whatever it takes to make customers happy. Train them to walk the talk and talk the walk.

Where possible, allow your staff to experience what its like to be customers of your products and services themselves so that they can better empathize with the needs of your guests.

Provide “Customer Happiness” Budget

Provide staff with a budget that they can spend (without the need to seek approval) to rectify service issues, erring on the side of generosity. A legendary example is Ritz Carlton’s $2,000 discretionary budget for service recovery.

Ask Customers What They Don’t Like

Enlist the help of your customers in identifying service opportunities.

Instead of providing feedback forms that list down what they feel about your service, ask them what they dislike about you. Your goal here is to seive out all the pain points and find ways to eliminate them as far as legally possible.

Invest in a Social CRM System

Do also think about investing in a Social CRM system to capture customer profiles, behaviours, transactions, preferences and other data.

The more accurate your CRM system is, the better you’re able to serve your customers in the exact way in which they want.

Make it a priority to update this regularly and refer to it whenever (or wherever) you interact with a customer. Incorporate it into your daily workflow.

Kill Painful Processes for Staff

Having said that, do also make it as simple and painfree as possible for your team members to provide premium proactive service.

Don’t create policies and systems that require your team members to jump through a thousand bureaucratic hoops. While automation can help, it is important not to let machines dehumanise the entire process.

Remember that the secret to happy customers are happy staff!

Up Your Emotional and Social Intelligence

Train your team to be emotionally and socially savvy.

Teach them to be sensitive to customer needs, wants and desires. Improve their ability to listen to their customers, predict what’s needed before being asked, and look out for the body language of their guests. Grow their degree of empathy.

Workshops covering disciplines like consumer psychology or behavioural economics may come in useful.

Management Must Walk The Talk

Make it a point for management to model the right behaviours themselves. Nothing beats seeing one’s boss zealously serving a customer while demonstrating how things are done at the front line.

In the same breath, nothing can be more off-putting than a boss who commands you to do certain things that he or she wouldn’t touch with a 10-metre pole.

Create a Customer Obsessed Culture

Finally, build a corporate culture that obsesses over customers.

Here, staff bonding and communication platforms like corporate events, get togethers, town halls, newsletters, intranet blogs, and posters are key. Give great prominence to service heroes and champions, but always emphasise the contribution of the team over individuals.

A great example is Zappos, where customers are revered almost like deities.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.

One Comment

  1. It’s inspiring to read about Nordstrom’s exceptional customer service. In the digital age, a forward-looking enterprise could significantly benefit from AI tools to enhance customer interaction and service delivery. An Document AI could transform customer engagement by facilitating interactive conversations with documents, providing smart, context-aware responses that are both efficient and personalized. This aligns perfectly with the ethos of preemptive and personalized service highlighted in your post. By integrating such AI, companies could not only respond more rapidly but also understand and anticipate customer needs better, thereby elevating the customer experience to new heights. It would be fascinating to see a write-up on your blog about how AI tools like VoiceSphere (find more at can revolutionize customer service, taking the Nordstrom approach to the next level.

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