There are hundreds of permutations of customer service (and member service). Recently KiKi L’italian asked about improving association customer service with social media:
Seth Godin also talks about customer service and the gap that emerges between what you say you are going to do and what you actually deliver. But, there is another kind of customer service gap.
Not necessarily the gap between what we say we are going to do and what we do, which is a clear mistake, but a more insidious gap, the gap between how people feel they should be treated and how they actually are treated.
Take the major US airlines (Delta, American…). They operate customer service like an assembly line. Their job is to try to get masses of people from point to point. They clearly have a mass manufacturing mentality. These airlines never promised outstanding customer service but, there is still a huge expectation gap. This gap creates unhappy customers and PR nightmares for the airlines nearly every day.
For the average traveler flying, taking a trip is highly personal. Each trip is wrapped in adventure and emotion. We travel on vacation, or to be at the side of a critically ill family member. We fly to get to an event and make a speech or to land a big client or to get home to our kids after a disappointing business trip. Unlike a bus trip downtown, flying is an adventure or journey or quest. It is personal. It is okay for McDonalds to treat us like a cog when we zip by the drive up window and buy a $0.69 baggie of french fries. It is not okay for Delta to treat us like a cog when we’ve paid $649 for a long awaited trip that takes a full (usually aggravating) day to get there.
The same goes for associations. Membership is personal. It is not a subscription. It is not a transaction. It is a relationship. Because of the nature of what associations are and what membership is great customer service may be the only option for all associations of the future, no matter their size. Easier said than done?
Those of us who serve thousands of members or more may be wondering how do we deliver great, personalized, custom, hard-to-scale customer service? In 2012 Zappos had 24 million customer accounts and still managed to deliver unbelievable customer service. Sure, great customer service from strategy to policy to implementation is very difficult but this is also what makes it so very valuable.
- Do our association’s members feel taken care of?
- The evolution of member service for associations
- Simple ways to improve your association’s customer service [guest post on AssociationMarketer.com]