Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

Whatever business you are in – manufacturing, retail, health care, travel, high tech – you must realize that first and foremost, you are in the service business.

We all know how we like to be treated when we conduct a transaction. We also know how we do not like to be treated. There is no excuse not to render exceptional customer service.

But it has always amazed me that some organizations expect their customers to put up with disappointing service. It’s so much easier in the long run to expend a little more effort into putting your best foot forward.

So based on personal experience and extensive research, I offer my ABCs for customer service.

A is for anticipate. Know what your customers need, what problems may arise, and how you can best serve them. Don’t just meet their needs, amaze them with your attention.

is for business. Customer service is your business, no matter what you make or what service you provide. Keep repeating that mantra.

C is for commitments. You vouch for planned delivery dates, not random drop-off times. Businesses live on commitments, which lead to steady repeat sales.

D is for details. No detail is too small to a customer who has come to expect perfection from you. Little things make a big difference.

E is for empowerment. Every single person on your payroll must be empowered to make decisions on the spot that accommodate the customer first.

F is for fix the problem. When, despite your best efforts, something goes wrong, find out the reason and correct it immediately.

is for give customers what they want. Many don’t really want their money back. They just want products or services that work the way they’re supposed to.

is for hiring the right people to create and maintain a service culture. Recognize the skills and attitude you want, and make sure your staff supports that vision.

I is for the Internet. Customer service has taken on a whole new meaning with the rise of social media and websites like Angie’s List and Yelp. Google your company and see what you find. Refer to letter F if you don’t like what you see.

is for journey. Great service is not a one-time event, it’s an ongoing trek over weeks or years that comes with plenty of twists and turns to navigate.

K is for keep your word. Honesty and trust go hand in hand. Your word is your reputation, and your reputation is your future.

L is for long-term customer loyalty. It is not a hit and miss thing. You court it. You earn it. You cultivate it. You retain it.

M is for management, which needs to give employees the authority to help people before there is a problem, or be prepared to step in and handle the matter themselves.

N is for no customer service equals no customers.

O is for the other guys. What are they doing that you should be doing better?

P is for performance. If there was an award for best performance in a customer-service setting, you should be a shoo-in. Be aware of every opportunity to outperform your competition.

Q is for quick-witted. Be prepared to make adjustments to satisfy your customers.

R is for rebound, which is what you need to do to regain a customer’s business.

S is for service with a smile.

T is for take care of your customers or someone else will.

U is for under-promise and over-deliver. There has never been a sounder approach to customer service and sales.

V is for value. Customers need to value your product, your service and your relationship. Give them every reason to value you.

W is for Wow, as in constantly finding ways to wow your customers. Make every encounter as special as you can, because your customers will remember how you made them feel.

X is for express lane. There is no traffic jam in going the extra mile – and great customer service is your path to success.

Y is for years. Your goal is to have a customer for life.

Z is for zealous. If you want to set up and run a business with longevity in the form of long-term and repeating customers, you have to service those clients with zealous enthusiasm.

Mackay’s Moral: Customer Service is not just another department; it’s everyone’s job.

About the Author

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.