Many business executives believe that, by definition, services simply can’t be guaranteed. Services are generally delivered by human beings, who are known to be less predictable than machines, and they are usually produced at the same time they are consumed. It is one thing to guarantee a camera, which can be inspected before a customer sets eyes on it and which can be returned to the factory for repairs. But how can you pre-inspect a car tune-up or send an unsuccessful legal argument or bad haircut back for repair? Obviously you can’t.
But that doesn’t mean customer satisfaction can’t be guaranteed. A good service guarantees should be:
• Easy to understand and communicate
• Easy (and painless) to invoke
• Easy and quick to collect on
• And for organizations, guarantees should:
• Force you to focus on customers
• Set clear standards for employees
• Encourage feedback from customers
• Promote an understanding of the service delivery system
Build customer loyalty for organizations with guarantees in place or considering adding a guarantee, it would be wise to evaluate them against.
Another important factor to consider is ensuring that your customer service teams have the authority to grant the guarantee to your customers without seeking managerial approval or making them jump through hoops. It needs to be just as easy for a customer service agent to grant the guarantee request from a customer as it is for the customer to receive it on their own.
A hassle-free utilization of the guarantee can give customers a renewed confidence in your organization’s ability to deliver on your commitments. It also gives your frontline representatives the opportunity to satisfy customers the first time, every time – which makes for a better working environment.
I know what some of you are thinking – service guarantees don’t apply to us. In this case, I think they certainly can and might even deliver breakthrough service and a powerful competitive advantage. Transparent guarantees can help clients move away from “lowest-price” decision making criteria to a “price-value” decision, which in turn can improve customer retention in the long-term. In this day of social media raves and rants, having a good guarantee might be the difference between a one-star and a five-star rating.
Organizations that figure out how to offer—and deliver—guaranteed, breakthrough service will have tapped into a powerful source of competitive advantage. Doing so is no mean feat, of course, which is precisely why the opportunity to build a competitive advantage exists. Though the task is difficult, it is clearly not impossible, and the service guarantee can play a fundamental role in the process.