BAM! Customer Service Dictionary
These are our definitions of commonly used words in the world of customer service.
Here are our definitions of words used in this book. We are not saying we are right; this is just what the words mean to us.
Action: What you need to do to create the perfect customer service experience from the customer’s point of view. The opposite of wait.
Altruism: Believing that a company or individual should give good customer service because it is the charitable thing to do. This is not only wrong, but is unsustainable for a profitable business.
Attitude: Make decisions with the deliberate intent of helping a prospect or customer feel more satisfied.
BAM: Acronym for Bust a Myth. See Myth.
Belief: What people think and accept as true. May not correlate with facts. Have great sticking power, even when they are wrong.
Boss: As in, “the boss.” Person employees should not have to talk to make the customer feel satisfied.
Brand Power: If you are a small company that serves a large brand, you can use that customer’s brand recognition to attract more customers to you. Customers love references from brand companies they recognize.
Chat: Talking through typing in real time to another person on the Web or your phone. This is what your teenage children spend most of their time doing.
Common Sense: There is no such thing in customer service. See Training.
Competitors: Individuals and companies who want our customers. If we are not providing BAM!-good customer service, they can and will take our customers.
Complain: What a customer does when they are unhappy. They complain to themselves, to friends, on the Web, and even sometimes to you.
Customer Service: Ah, you are not going to get away so easy. It is whatever the customer feels it is. Read the book we wrote!
Customer: There is no such thing as “the customer”; therefore, there are too many definitions to list them all here.
Customer-less: Either someone who is out of business or a business in the state of pure nirvana. You pick! See Belief.
Dignity: As in treat people with. See Respect.
Disney: A place where most customers are always happy. This takes a lot of employee training.
Empowerment: Training employees to make decisions on their own to help a customer without talking to “the boss.”
Ethics: Everyone needs them, but we don’t offer good customer service because it is the right thing to do.
Feedback: Giving the customer the opportunity to tell you what they think at many different stages of interaction, and the opportunity to do it in many different ways depending on what is convenient and appropriate for them. Something smart companies listen to and take to heart. Associated with the Three Times Rule—if you hear something about your business three times, whether you like it or not, pay serious attention. It is probably true.
Forever: Relative time the customer feels they need to wait. See Wait Time.
Happy: An impossible dream that is sometimes worth the pursuit. No business strategy in the world can make all customers happy. See Satisfied.
High Quality: The belief that high-quality products solve all the problems of customer service; that with quality products, customer service is simple, even automatic. Nonsense!
Humans: Who every customer wants to talk to when they call your company.
Kick the Cat: What employees do when they take their frustrations out on the customer. Blowing a situation out of proportion. The kiss of death for a company.
Manifesto: Your company’s public declaration of its commitment to customer service.
Measurement: The methods your business chooses to decide the value of each customer and overall customer service in your business.
Mistake: The hardest thing for the company (or the customer) to admit.
Monopolies: Companies that never have to give good customer service because the consumer has no (or very limited) alternative but to buy their service. The heavy-handed way some companies (that aren’t monopolies) treat their customers.
My Manager: The person the customer is seemingly always getting passed to or who always gets blamed by the employee if something goes wrong. The catcher in “passing the buck.”
Myth: Something you believe that really is not true; for example: You can satisfy all the customers all the time.
Overpromise: Making a commitment to a customer or to all customers that the company is not economically able to keep.
Patience: What businesses think customers ought to have. What customers think they have a lot of.
Peer Reviews: Online references written by customers on the level of quality or service in your company. Sometimes called an open reputation system.
Permission Marketing: The company’s commitment never to give out the contact or any other information of any customer…and you better not.
Personalization: Company use of technology to tailor their marketing, products, and services to the preferences and desires of that one customer. Also called customization.
Pest: A customer the company may need to fire to be more profitable.
Pride: What management thinks is the key ingredient in providing good customer service. Not teachable or duplicable.
Promise: A solemn commitment to a customer that the company will honor and the customer will not forget.
Prospect: Someone who should be interested in your company’s product or service. Almost as good as a customer.
Reality: The way the customers feel about your business.
Referrals: When a current customer recommends your products or company to someone who may be a potential customer for you. Referrals are highly desirable.
Refund: A word not in many companies’ vocabulary. The easiest way to help a customer who feels dissatisfied.
Respect: The number-one goal of any employee in treating a customer. See Dignity.
Retention: What every company wants to do with all its profitable customers. See Stickiness.
Revenue Timing: When the customer buys from you. This may be more valuable, especially if they buy when the company needs revenue that month (counter cyclical).
Revenue: Sales; very important—but not as important as cash.
Roadblocks: Beliefs, systems, or people that get in the way of providing good customer service.
Satisfied: The kind of feelings that customers have that keep them coming back to you. The goal of excellent customer service is a customer who feels satisfied. This is different than feeling happy. A satisfied customer will stay and many times be profitable. A good way to know how to satisfy a customer is to ask them this simple question: “What will it take to make you satisfied?”
Satisfying a Customer: Action on the customer’s answer to the question above.
Self Service: Tools such as kiosks and Web tools for customers to assist themselves. Not always linked to satisfaction, but increasingly linked to high expectations of a quick turnaround.
Stickiness: How long a customer stays with your business.
Streaming Video: Content displayed to the viewer in real time over the Internet.
Surcharges: Fees that are in addition to the price of the product and sales tax.
Survey: A mostly ineffective means of getting customer feedback, especially when the company bribes the customer to do it.
Suspect: Someone who should be interested in what you are selling.
Sustainable Competitive Advantage: The thing that will always beat your competitors, even if they have a better product or more money.
Training: What every employee needs to do a great job of customer service. This cannot be emphasized too much.
Under-deliver: Not meeting the service expectations you set with the customer. Slow poison, if not the kiss of death.
Unreasonable: What many customer service reps think every customer request is.
Value: The economic value you have to your customer. The economic value customer service has to your business.
Voice Mail Jail: Every customer’s nightmare, especially if they do not get a call back. See Forever.
Wait Time: How long a customer has to wait to be helped on the phone or in line. For a customer, this seems like, well, see Forever.
Wild Goose Chase: When the customer never feels they can get their issue resolved since they are passed around the organization. See Empowerment