Do You Know the 5 Steps to Excellent Customer Service? - Step 1

May 8, 2018

Do You Know the 5 Steps to Excellent Customer Service?
By Diane Van Wyngarden, Tourism Specialist

How can you add value to your business so customers will select you over others? What differentiates you from your competitors?  The first step for any business is to make it YOUR OWN. Begin by defining your business’s unique customer service culture. Many businesses skip this step – but it is the most important! Everything you do for your customers should result from the business culture you strategically decide to create.  This is not your mission statement, nor your marketing plan; but it influences both of those. Your customer service culture is the impression you want in a customer’s mind the instant they hear your business name.  The attached worksheet may help you get started. [pdf] What three words do you want your customers to say about their experience with you?

Innkeepers Virl and Kathy Banowetz purchased a historic home in Maquoketa and now operate the Squiers Manor B&B, after closing their longtime family antique business. Staying true to their passion for historical architecture and furniture, they now host overnight guests in an original 1882 Victorian mansion, decorated in antique décor. My stay at this B&B was not what I expected. I was tired from a long day of teaching workshops when I arrived after dark, wanting only a comfortable bed. However, the innkeepers invited me to join the other guests for homemade desserts by candlelight, and their elegant dining room lured me inside. I found myself laughing with the other guests at stories of local history, suddenly feeling relaxed and re-energized. Lively conversations continued the next morning, as guests salted their eggs and peppered our hosts with questions about local history. As I reluctantly returned to the road, the three business culture terms imprinted into my mind for this B&B were “historical knowledge, Maquoketa ambassadors, and elegance”. These innkeepers provided an experience not available at any chain hotel, and I still smile when I reflect upon my stay.

How does your customer service culture affect your business bottom line? It increases or decreases your customer base. Social media lodging reviews usually focus on physical amenities. However, Squiers Manor B&B reviews focus on the intangibles. Guests consistently praise the Banowetz’s customer service culture as their reason why they keep coming back, such as “We enjoyed the architectural tour of the home and the history lesson.” “They know everything about… Read more... the local history and fun things to do.” “They have a sign on the back door that reads, ‘Come as strangers, leave as friends’ and they couldn't live out this motto more perfectly. Their hospitality is unmatched and unequaled.”

Virl and Kathy Banowetz participated in our Maquoketa Customer Service workshop and guest reviews indicate they are effectively applying the five steps. The first step to excellent customer service is to “Make it Your OWN” by strategically creating your unique culture. Watch for the next steps in future newsletter issues.

  1. Make it YOUR OWN
  2. Make it PERSONAL
  3. Make it EFFICIENT
  4. Make it SATISFYING
  5. Make it MEMORABLE

See more information about our Customer Service Workshops at www.extension.iastate.edu/communities/customer-service

What innovative customer service ideas do you offer to your customers, or have you personally experienced? Let us know. We may use your example in an upcoming workshop or article. Contact Diane Van Wyngarden at dvw@iastate.edu.