T. Scott Gross has written five books, three of them directly related to promoting customer service. Perhaps his best known is "Positively Outrageous Service." He´s worked with companies such as Southwest Airlines, FedEx, Wal-Mart, Ford and many others. Scott is also a small businessman himself having started in the fast food industry and is currently "a team owner of Sporty´s, a casual café" in Kerrville, TX. He knows what it’s like to run a small business in a competitive environment. (He must, according to the Kerrville Chamber of Commerce, his restaurant has about 30 competitors.)
Recently I posed these questions to Scott: Glenn: How would you define “positively outrageous service”(hereinafter referred to as "POS") for a small business?
Scott: Positively outrageous service is any random act of unexpected service.
Glenn: Given that a small business has to be successful at marketing, human resources, product selection, pricing, administration, etc. how much emphasis should be placed on customer service?
Scott: Customer service is the expression of the brand… all of the above are merely precursors to the service experience.
Glenn: Does POS impact how you decide who to hire for your business?
Scott: Service is where brand meets customer… not everyone is psychologically capable of delivering POS… hiring is critical.
Glenn: How can POS be implemented in an industry such as financial services that has an image for seriousness?
Scott: POS is serious… what if you remembered that a client is into astronomy and you called to introduce her to an astrophysicist you happened to meet on a plane… that would be POS and serious as well.
Glenn: For small businesses, what are the best ways to get customer feedback?
Glenn: Can POS give a small business an edge over the service offered by a national chain?
Scott: Put the previous two questions together… small business owners have a distinct advantage over the big guys… the little guy can walk around the counter, stick out a hand and say, “tell me what we could do to earn even more of your business.” the big guys can’t do that.
Glenn: What are the trends, or the “next big things” in customer service?
Scott: Tomorrow belongs to those who figure out how to deliver service as efficiently as they deliver appliances… price and quality are the givens.
Glenn: What are the most common mistakes businesses make when it comes to customer service?
Scott: Not listening, creating products and then looking for a customer that fits.
Glenn: What is the business owner’s responsibility once he or she decides to implement POS?
Scott: Lead the way… it only happens when there is an example.
Glenn: If a business owner were to tell you that he or she was going to implement POS what would the first three steps be?
Scott: Hire service naturals, remove obstacles, get out of their way… and then remember to say thank-you!
In addition to these questions, Scott also has an FAQ on his Web site along with free downloadable articles on POS and, of course, you can find out more about his books there.
The Positively Outrageous Service Rules For Apology
Â· When in doubt-apologize
Â· Apologize even when the customer doesn´t know you goofed
Â· Always make amends in excess of the slipup
Â· Empower everyone to solve problems
Â· Handle mistakes by the numbers
–T. Scott Gross, from the book, "Positively Outrageous Service"