I think there are only two parts to it, but you need both, not one or the other.
1. When you have hired the right people in the first place, and
2. When you take care of them really really well, providing them with a workplace that is as exceptional as the service you expect them to give others.
I agree that these are essential, but would add that this is certainly a case where "tone at the top" differentiates good organizations from the not-so-good. Here are signs you are dealing with organizations that don't promote a "culture of service."
- They are quick to quote policies which explain why you are wrong or your request is unreasonable.
- They do not suggest alternatives to help you solve your problem.
- They find creative ways to get out of honoring commitments and guarantees (goofy technical loopholes, strange interpretations of their guarantees, etc.)
- They don't offer any sympathy, empathy, or token of esteem when they cannot satisfy their commitments.
- Make you feel unwanted or unneeded.
In contrast, other organizations seem to have a better grasp that keeping us as customers is a long-term thing. They are more likely to:
- Apologize for the inconvenience and offer some sort of compensation (a free dessert or a free drink, for example). Sometimes it's as simple as "I'm really sorry this happened, and I never want it to happen again - I'll write this down and report it to my manager."
- Come up with suggestions for other ways to solve your problem, sometimes even telling you where you can find a competitor that's a better fit for your need (ironically, this makes me an even more loyal customer of the company that couldn't help me)
- Understand that a guarantee means they have a commitment to fulfill or make things right.
- Make you feel needed and wanted.
You don't want one of these slide shows flying around the internet about your company, do you?Not being a good service provider can have all sorts of implications. Unhappy customers spread their ill will a lot more than happy customers. Several years ago, I received a copy of a PowerPoint slide show that goes into great detail about a bad customer experience at a hotel. I've included it here for your enjoyment, since it is well done and quite hilarious - enjoy! Download review_hotel.pps
And if your business provides service, try to ensure that you instill a culture of service within your organization. You don't want one of these slide shows flying around the internet about your company, do you?