Can Customer Service Touch Your Soul?

When was the last time you had a profound customer service experience?

Customer experience expert Chip Bell says, “Service can be a perfunctory act delivered with routine banter and going-through-the-motions energy.  It can be the same service we get pretty much everywhere, every day.  Or it can be something different . . . “

In his newest book, Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles, Bell says innovative service is about delivering an experience that is surprisingly ingenious.  Bell writes, “It’s about creating the kind of experience that profoundly touches the soul of customers, leaving them changed forever by the encounter.

I don’t know about you but I haven’t had my soul touched too often when it comes to customer service.  If anything I have to protect my soul from dispiriting encounters.

I’m not alone.

Bell, says, “For the last two years, I’ve been asking leaders and participants in my training session, “I want you to think about the best service experience you’ve ever had.  I want you to think about one so profound you will remember it for the rest of your life.”

Most people can only come up with one or two experiences.

Bell asks his clients to consider, “What were the features that made a service encounter profoundly remarkable?  In that it had such a profound impact on you, that you had to remark about it?”

Bell found when you ask people to define those profoundly remarkable moments it is almost always a soul-based experience.  Soul-based in that your interaction with someone touches you emotionally, not just functionally, or intellectually.

Asking service people to deliver profoundly remarkable experiences that touch the human soul might seem like a tall order.  But it happens every single day.

In Kaleidoscope, Bell describes how the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotels enchants their customers with a box of old fashioned toys, including wooden pick-up sticks and an antique Slinky in the box.  It’s profound for people out on the road because it brings back their childhood.  Not surprisingly, the guests tell everyone.

He writes about the Courtyard by Marriott in San Antonio Texas, where the hotel manager put a handwritten sign in the lobby, “Dear guests: We need your help. The aunt of one of our housekeepers has passed away and today is the funeral.  This was an important person in this housekeepers’ life; we all felt we should be at the funeral.  Consequently, there will only be one employee on-site . . .at the front desk . . . between 2 and 3:30 p.m. We ask for your patience and understanding.  Thanks, the manager!”

How would you feel if you read that note?  Instead of being angry, you’d probably jump into help.  The Courtyard guests did exactly that; they greeted arriving guests and explained what was happening.  It was an experience they will remember forever because it connected on a very deep level.

Bell says, his aspiration is to help people deliver who they are, not just the act.  Soul- touching service is about being profoundly present to those you serve.

To create organizations that deliver sparkling innovative service, Bell says, leaders have to help people understand and embrace the noble purpose, and it must come from the heart.  The other side, says Bell, is to help the employees find the Me in their mission.  What part of themselves can they bring into their job?

Bell says, when it comes to service, “If there is no emotional connection, it’s not memorable, it’s merely functional.”