Quick Tip: Little Touches Can Yield Big Gains in Customer Service

Customer service can be a differentiator to your customers. At the same time, even relatively minor details can make a major difference.

My wife likes crystalline objects, and once in a while for a special occasion I see something that I think will really suit her. So not long ago I’d bought her a bear hand cooler from the Steuben Glass boutique at the Breakers Hotel in West Palm Beach, FL. Because she already had the item, I returned it for a cat hand cooler in the same collection. The item, which costs $225, is on the low end of Steuben’s collection.

When I returned it via UPS, I got a friendly phone call from a salesperson at the store letting me know that they had received my package and would process the exchange. She said I would have to pay the outgoing shipping and could I give her my credit-card number. The item costs less than 2 lbs., so the shipping cost would be minimal, and besides, it was my mistake.

When the new item came, it was a glorious sight. The cat was packaged in a felt pouch and was absolutely gleaming. The pouch rested in the signature Steuben Glass heavy-duty, oversize charcoal-gray gift box cushioned with foam. The gift box was beautifully tied with the Steuben Glass light gray ribbon. The gift box had been adequately overstuffed in a cardboard carton with peanuts and sent to me UPS Ground.

When my wife opened it, accompanying the exchange was a white envelope hand-lettered with my name containing a handwritten message that read, “We did not charge you for any return UPS shipping fees.”

Never has an exchange been so lovingly presented!

The lesson: It makes good business sense to establish an initiative to revaluate your company and challenge it to make customer service the number-one priority. Everyone on your team, from the returns processing department to the credit-handling department, should have the same customer service mentality as your contact center. You might try getting these departments together to talk about customer service. After all, a little means a lot.

Curt Barry is president of Richmond, VA-based operations consultancy F. Curtis Barry & Co.