If customer service describes how you are differentiate yourself or your company in the marketplace, then you waste words. Great customer service is assumed.

In the last few weeks, at least half of the business people I met talked about their great customer service.

They aren’t alone. When I have interviewed employees at companies that hired me to help with their marketing, most of them trumpeted their incredible customer service as THE thing to focus attention on. But when I asked for examples, most of the time what they described as great customer service sounded to me like doing the job, nothing more. It also sounded each time like what their competitors would tell me if asked.

If everyone’s doing it, then by definition it can’t be a differentiator.

Don’t get me wrong. Great customer service is essential to any business success. It’s as important as having a way to collect money.

It just can’t be a differentiator because, unless you have a reputation for bad service, we assume you have good service. It’s not our demand. It’s a hallmark of any successful business.

Conversely, if you have bad customer service, you will run out of customers as word of your misdeeds spreads. Lose enough customers and you are out of business. Capitalism handles this situation all too well and all too quickly.

Spotlighting customer service invites the wrong thoughts in customers’ minds. Reinforcing what we expect suggests one of two things, each of which is bad for a business. First, what you think is “great customer service” is probably good or expected customer service to us. Therefore, we question your commitment and your ability to discern vital business information.

Second, calling attention to your supposed great customer service suggests you had bad customer service at some point. We perceive the message to be that you are proud of overcoming this challenge. The problem with that suggestion is it plants the seed that customer service could fail again. Who wants to work with a company that might fail in its customer service?

More often than we want to admit, companies we expect to have great customer service let us down. On some deep, personal level, we fear this possibility each time we commit to a transaction. What if that object I bought online is a knockoff or they never ship it? What if that three-year warranty has so many caveats, hidden in all that fine print none of us ever reads before signing, that we’ll never get our money back? What if that TV ad promising the world supports a company that has no one answering the phone if you have a problem?

The best people to talk about a company’s customer service are its customers; they have instant credibility when they say a company handled things well. Most of us don’t share those stories about the companies we deal with unless the provider goes way above and beyond our expectations. Those stories help differentiate a company. But they are customer initiated and customer generated – always.

If your company is hawking its great customer service, you are really saying nothing at all.

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