Last week I relayed a frustrating personal customer service situation and discussed 4 Consequences When People Are No Longer the Center of Your Service. In this post, I would like to communicate three essential facets of service that were critical to the late Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple.
Let me first begin with segments of an email exchange that I had a while back with a customer service rep from Apple named Kim. My problem was that I was struggling to complete the download cycle for an iTunes song that I had purchased and did not know how to resolve my “inner turmoil.”
Here are excerpts from the email conversation:
ANTONE: I downloaded this song onto my iPhone and it got hung up in the last stage “processing.” It appeared as if it downloaded but sometimes when trying to play it, it just goes to the next song instead. Also, on my home computer it will not load into iTunes when I sync it. Is there a way to re-download the song? Thank you.
KIM: Dear Antone, thank you for writing to iTunes Store Support. This is Kim and I will be attending to your concern today. I’m sorry to hear that one of your purchased songs abruptly stops playing. As a customer and a music-lover myself, I know how it feels when you are can’t listen to the songs that you have paid for. Rest assured that I’ll certainly do my best to provide as much information as I can to help you.
Antone, I’d like you to know that sometimes when a connection is interrupted during download…
I hope this information has been helpful. If the song still won’t play correctly after you download them again from your past purchases, please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you, Antone. Have a wonderful weekend!
ANTONE: Kim, thank you for the prompt reply. I wanted to say first off I am very impressed with your customer service. It is very refreshing to know it still exists. 🙂 I followed your directions below and my song is back on my iPhone – many thanks for that. I really appreciate your help. I had one additional question…
Thank you again for great service. I look forward to your reply.
KIM: Hello Antone, thank you so much for keeping in touch. This is Kim again. You are most welcome! I’m glad to hear that you were able to have this song on your iPhone. I hope you enjoy listening to it. Regarding your inquiry…However, to make things easier for you, I have also included the article below…
However, if you still have some difficulties with transferring or downloading this song to your computer, I may need to refer you to our technical support…
I hope this information has helped you, Antone, and that everything goes well from here. If you have a specific question about your account or about billing, please let me know. Thank you so much for your understanding and patience regarding this matter.
KIM: Hello again, I wanted to send a quick note to see if all of your concerns were addressed. I hope that the information I previously provided was of assistance. Please don’t hesitate to reply if you need any further support from iTunes Store. Thank you for choosing the iTunes Store.
This was one of those situations where it was almost fun to have a technical issue because it was resolved in such a fantastic manner. There are three highlights that stand out for me, and these are summarized in Walter Isaacson’s biography Steve Jobs. As leaders, we would do well, in whatever context of influence that we have, to embody these three principles for those we work with as well as our customers.
Have an intimate connection with the feelings of the customer so that their needs become your own. Jobs stated that “we will truly understand their needs better than any other company.”
Is that true of me? Do I study my customer base through interaction and reading source material? Kim did and this rep did a flawless job of making sure my issue was of concern to her.
“In order to do a good job of those things that we decide to do, we must eliminate all of the unimportant opportunities.” Do what you have been called to do and no more. Find your niche and then be the best at it. And make sure you personally are creating that culture along the way with your team mates.
There were opportunities with Kim to get passed off or to have curt or abrupt exchanges. Kim provided awesome service because her focus stayed on me until the very end. In fact, after I had a busy weekend and did not reply to her email, she wrote back to see if everything was OK. Her focus spoke loudly to me.
“People form an opinion about a company or product based on the signals that it conveys.” Thus, “if we present [our products] in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities.”
From the handling of the product to the experience of taking it out of the box, it is all intentional and helps to form a perception of the overall quality and satisfaction with an Apple product.
And notice Kim’s intentional wording in the email responses. It helped me form an opinion about Apple. Kim imputed excellent about Apple.
The truth is that Kim simply embodied the culture of Apple Inc. And the truth is also that these three highlights are neither hard nor difficult – just overlooked. They are just three intentional things to do. And remember, getting away from this type of emphasis makes you mediocre at best, irrelevant at worst. Life is too consequential to do otherwise when viewed through the lens of Gospel-living.
Make a difference. Influence well. Empathize. Focus. Impute.
Question: what other words would you include? Do you see these three in your own experiences?