Customer service is not a transaction, it is an experience

I read an insightful post by Alice Wright on customer surveys. Her main point was how focusing on customer survey results can get in the way of providing excellent service. I’ve often found myself in similar situations – especially in retail environments – where the person who rang me up practically begged me to give him/her the highest rating.

Whenever this happens (I’m looking at you big-box retailer!), I typically think, “Um, no, I will not take the survey because you didn’t provide me with any service. You just rang up my order”. Ringing up my order is a transaction, it is not customer service.

Too many people confuse transaction assistance with customer service – they are not the same animal. If you offer me something unexpected, or give me a cool tip on a product or service, that’s a different story. Now you have provided me with service (along with my transaction). As a result, I am more inclined to take the survey AND give high marks.

Maybe we should rename some “customer service” positions and call them “transaction assistance”  positions. Perhaps that will lessen the confusion of what customer service truly is. It’s not a transaction, it is about providing a memorable experience!

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