Just finished reading this book called ‘The Agile Manager’s Guide To Extraordinary Customer Service’ written by Susan M. Gage.

I am impressed – fully impressed about the fact that this book contains hundreds of different useful tips about customer service, all given in less than a hundred pages. In short, every page has  one or more very useful tips – which I used to think I knew, but I just realized what a big mistake it is, when we do not implement it.

Before reading this book, the only lesson I had learnt about customer service was that it is seven times more difficult to get a new customer than to retain an existing one. I learnt many new things after reading this book. I have highlighted some of them here below.

Story Telling Technique in Team Meetings

This is an impressive approach recommended by Susan in this book. The idea is to get the customer service representatives in a team meeting on a regular basis, and start telling stories about our real life experiences when buying items elsewhere (both good and bad experiences). This leads to the team members also sharing their experiences and how in some bad situations they expected something different – and how they would have done it differently to satisfy the customer. This leads to new ideas and creative ways of improving the focus of the staff in customer service.

Empowering The Staff

I felt this was the key to the success of any service provider. If the customer service representatives are educated about the goals and metrics, and empowered to take decisions to keep the customer happy, it is a win-win situation for every one. There have been numerous instances when I have been told by customer service staff that I have to talk to their managers for certain decisions. If the staff is adequately empowered, that experience will be instrumental in improving customer loyalty.

Lifetime Worth of a Customer

For the first time, I learnt the value of ‘Lifetime Worth of a Customer’ and how to calculate it. I also learnt how useful it is to educate all the customer facing staff about the value of this and how it directly corresponds to their contributions in various ways (eg.  keeping an existing customer happy or making a old customer come back as a new customer due to excellent customer service).

Survey Techniques

The book also shows you how to use some simple techniques such as surveys to collect valuable data that can be used to take decisions around improving customer service. In fact, for an online business, it is much more easier than the customer who walks into a physical store. The customer visiting an online store leaves back lot of valuable information (such as landing page, pages visited, time spent, exit page, clicking preferences, etc) even if the do not buy a product.

In any case, the key here is to collect information, understand where we are not living up to the expectations of the customer, analyse the cost involved in making it happen and executing it.

I read this book within a week (as I wanted to read it twice to make sure I did not miss anything) and I am thoroughly impressed with the quality of information provided by the author. I highly recommend this book to anyone trying to improve the customer service experience in their organisation.