The Public Buildings Service (PBS) is a code created to provide real estate services to the U.S. Government. The New England Region PBS has created something called the PCE Project that helps train employees to provide the perfect customer experience (PCE). In this guide, you will learn how to treat customers with five essential principles: respect, value, expertise, ease, and service recovery.
First and foremost, you must understand customer service. Customer service is the act of providing support to customers. It is important to understand the most basic elements of customer service in order to provide it. We want to ensure that our customers not only think highly of our organization but speak proudly of our services to others. By utilizing the five essential principles of the perfect customer experience, you will be helping customers understand that our organization has the potential to not only meet, but exceed expectations in every area.
This is the first essential principle of the perfect customer experience. In any business, respect should be one of the first most important guidelines to customer service. When a customer or client is interested in using or investing in any business, they expect to be respected, no matter the situation. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines respect as “an act of giving particular attention: consideration” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). This definition is as equally important in customer service as it is in life. Regarding customer service, respect can be given on many different levels.
Jeanne Bliss explains how respect can be one of the most crucial elements of customer service. In her article, “10 Ways to Respect Your Customers”, she highlights from her experience in customer service that “Customers loved us because we respected them and their time. And we made sure that we translated that respect to actions they could see and feel” (Bliss, 2017). Our main priority in developing excellent customer service is ensuring that customers feel like their time, money, and input is valued. If a customer does not feel that way coming into or leaving a business, we will risk losing their business forever.
This is the second essential principle of the perfect customer experience. Imaging the things that you value you the most in your life. Family and friends? Money? Your time? These are all things that people (customers) value and they should not be overlooked. Even though work in the customer service industry, you are still a customer to someone else. Whether you are shopping on Amazon or finding a company to handle your 401k, you are always looking for the company that values you the most. Aparna Shanker explains in her Q&A article in Technology Innovation Management Review about customer value that “An entrepreneurial firm must deliver value along dimensions that matter most to its customers” (Shanker, 2012).
What she is explaining in this statement is that a customer’s values must be the driving motivation of how a business operates. Following this statement, Shanker provides an example of how a customer at a coffee shop might value a cup of coffee together with a friend over a cup of coffee to-go. Although the monetary value is the same, the value of time spent with a friend is greater. This idea on value can help you realize that the customers perspective on value can differ than the business’s perspective on value. Businesses must know how to see other points of view in order to provide the value a customer is looking for.
This is the third essential principle of the perfect customer experience. Expertise is “the ability, knowledge, and resources to meet customers expectations” (Avila et al, 2017, p. 32). Without expertise of business or salesperson, a customer will find another place to shop. When a customer walks into a car dealership they are expecting the car salesperson to have knowledge on the vehicle they are trying to sell. If the car salesperson has no knowledge on the products, the customer may leave and find a salesperson who does have the ability to provide the information they are expecting. Businesses must go the extra mile to prove their customers the dedication for the service. Not only are businesses selling their knowledge, but also the entire organization and the support they bring to the buyer (Avila et al, 2017, p. 33). You are expected to know about the services you are providing for the sake of the customer and New England Region PBS.
This is the fourth essential principle of the perfect customer experience. Ease is something that every business strives for. In fact, ease is the main reason that companies adopt new technology, revamp their websites, and offer services like same-day delivery or free shipping. They do these things to provide more ease to customers. Ease is something that customers yearn for from businesses. For example, if one website is easier to navigate and make purchases on than a competing website, a customer will switch to instantly. Ease is not only important for online business, but every business. Being in the retail market can be extremely competitive. This competition is why the New England Region PBS must ensure that each customer finds our services easy to use.
Service recovery is the fifth principle in perfect customer experience and is one thing that gives some companies a comparative advantage. The amount of service recovery a business has is essentially how resilient they are from errors or mistakes. Having a positive review of service recovery can create lifelong customers. It only takes one incident that is not well-recovered to push a customer away for good. According to Joe Sejean, “mistakes are disguised as opportunities and exceeding expectations in the service recovery brings greater loyalty than constant good service” (Sejean, 2018). Sejean goes on to explain that the three steps to exceed expectations in service recovery are speed, commitment, and transparency.
Fixing a problem fast is something expect. No customer wants to be left hanging with a problem that hasn’t been fixed. Commitment to the problem is equally as important as speed. Without the companies commitment to repairing a mistake, the customer may feel that their time and money is not valued. The third step, transparency, also relates to valuing and respecting the customer. A company that is good in service recovery should never leave the customer in the dark about how the situation is being handled. The New England Region PBS is dedicated to following these steps to make their service recovery exceed expectations. Mistakes will happen, and customers will complain, but is just a part of business. It is up to the employees of the New England Region PBS to represent the company well when mistakes and errors arise. By increasing the level of service recovery in our business, you will increase the level of customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Incorporating these five principles into your customer service can help every single customer feel great about the services we provide. You must think about each of these while presenting our services as they will help establish and develop loyal, life-long customers. In order to increase the level of positive customer service experiences, you must respect every customer that you meet. Whether you meet them on the phone, in the office, or through email, respect for the customer is always a requirement. You must also portray to each customer that they are valued. Without the feeling of being valued, a customer won’t trust you with their time, money, or property. Provide your expertise in every situation. Your knowledge of our company and the services we provide are what customers are looking for and expecting. If you get stuck not knowing, find out.
Finding the right answer may not be easy, but the hard work in finding that answer will be worth-while. For some customers, simplicity is an expectation. Do your best to make the process simple and easy for everyone. They are coming to you for help because this is your specialty. Don’t make them do all the hard work. The last step, service recovery, will make the greatest impact. Don’t ever let a mistake ruin your relationship with a customer. Your relationship is our relationship. Always seek the silver lining on every error. There will always be a way to fix a problem. Your hard work is noticed by our company and our customers. The perfect customer experience is not about making money, it’s about making a difference and changing lives.
- Avila, Ramon A., et al. (2015/2017) SELL5: Trust-Based Professional Selling. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning
- Bliss, J. (2017, Aug). 10 Ways to Respect Your Customers. Retrieved from https://multichannelmerchant.com/blog/10-ways-to-respect-your-customers/
- Respect. (n.d.) Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/respect
- Sejean, J. (2018, Oct). 3 Thinks You Need to Know About Service Recovery Paradox. Retrieved from https://www.martechadvisor.com/articles/customer-experience-2/3-things-you-need-to-know-about-service-recovery-paradox/
- Shanker, A. (2012, Feb). Q&A. Technology Innovation Management Review. Retrieved from https://timreview.ca/sites/default/files/article_PDF/Shanker_TIMReview_February2012.pdf