Excessive service hurts your business, or How not to be a caring grandmother for a client

This article describes a strange problem — oversupply of service — from a consumer point of view. In life, I am not a marketer, but an HR, and therefore, I hope, my opinion will be somewhat more objective and unbiased. So my thoughts.

At what point did the service become redundant? And is it a service?

We all love our grandmothers and understand that they only want us well. They tirelessly make sure that we put on warm socks, eat hot soup before going out, wrapped up more reliably, because in spring even in +20 the weather is insidious.

Grandmas always provide us with the best service. The only trouble is that in most cases it is redundant.

You now understand what I mean. Strangely enough, for Russia, where the very idea of ​​service was forgotten for about 75 years, the problem identified today is quite acute. Of course, I'm talking mostly about B2C. Excess service (IP) is something that each of you encounters 100 times a day. This is something that subtly infuriates you. You cannot remain calm, because in the very fact of IP there is distrust of you as an intelligent being.

We can postulate that the two components of the redundant service are:

  • invented and imposed on you by marketers needs;
  • lack of empathy towards the client.

Its manifestations can be any. These are, for example, an endless range of additional services in the price list and hyper-help by sellers in the store; the twitching green handset on the site ("Do you want us to call you back in 29 seconds ??") and boring scripts that the girl from the next call center reads to you on the phone. This is all that causes you to communicate with the seller a sense of annoyance and boredom.

A good, customer-oriented service is when the client received what he expected, and a little more than that (which, in general, he did not initially expect).

It is not so important in what this appendage will be expressed - in the cash discount or in the received emotions. If we are dealing with IP, the process of interacting with the seller at some point will necessarily become tiresome and forced. Your energy will be constantly spent either on annoying micro solutions or on digesting gigabytes of unnecessary information. At least, there will definitely be no positive.

There is also a fine line between IP and “imposed service”. With the imposed service — say, with the insurance that was sold to you along with the loan — you can still somehow deal in rational ways. You can refer to the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, write complaints and eventually even return your money. But the excess service is elusive: it annoys you, but it is impossible to grasp its tail.

Where is it most common and why?

Most likely to face IP in the mass segment. The main breeding ground of IP - retail - banking, mobile, grocery - as well as the most popular catering, and, of course, cellular operators. A separate song is the IC in site building: the more fanciful the customer's ideas about usability, the more unexpected solutions for the user will be implemented.

Sources of evil are ill-conceived scripts, standards and inadequate marketing ideas about the service. One can argue a lot and fruitlessly on whether the script is good or evil, and where are the boundaries beyond which the standards of service turn into mindless fanaticism. Examples of fanaticism consider a little lower.

So, the company operates in the mass market. The company understands that customers are important, of course, but ten new ones will come in the place of the one who left. Of course, it is impossible to say it out loud: competitors will pick up, and indeed, customer churn can happen. Therefore, introducing standards for working with clients, this company puts its own image at the forefront. Notice - taking care of a brand in such a context is different from taking care of a customer.

You want, you do not want, dear customer, and we will serve you - in full, maybe even too much - but then you will not be able to give a hint that our company did not give you service. What do you feel about it - your problems.

Reverse example, reducing to exactly the same result. The company sells something premium or sub-premium. And at the same time it feels simply obliged to customize the offer as much as possible. How does the customer perceive this? As something natural: he pays more than the mass segment buyer. But there is a fine line beyond which the client begins to understand: they are openly manipulated. And this happens exactly when customization goes into rampant after-sales: since we already have a premium client, so will we just let it go? (No - let him buy a teak steering wheel, an advanced rain sensor and other similar useful things. But excitement and enthusiasm should arise not only from the seller. Without reciprocal enthusiasm from the client’s side, frank joining will turn out).

Of course, I don’t try to comb everybody with the same brush: there are a huge number of companies whose marketing policy is “invisible, like a capillary network” - that's why we use their services, and we can’t complain about anything: we just don’t remember cases.


  • It is better to break all conceivable corporate standards than to comply with the standard for its own sake.

Recall the most striking manifestations of customer orientation from your practice - I am sure that about 99% of them are related to situations when the seller just got out of the standard. And I did what I don’t do, in general, I don’t have to, but that was very convenient and useful for you. For example, you ordered something that is not on the menu - and the waiter brought it to you, even if he borrowed food at a nearby restaurant (real story).

  • Normal service develops into redundant, when the seller and the marketer lose touch with the reality in which the client lives.
Got out of the client's "slippers" - automatically moved into the category of manipulators.
  • There is a pronounced correlation between a good level of management in a company, a general level of satisfaction and loyalty of employees, and a good customer service.
As the theater begins with a hanger, so the service begins somewhere at the level of the company's back office.

An example from personal experience: “Ribbon” (exemplary HR-service work + high level of employee engagement + consistently high-quality service).

Some short real-life cases (the author doesn’t name the company, but we understand)

These are, finally, examples of what I call redundant service. Try to imagine yourself in my place and tell me what unites these situations?

  • Supermarket of the premium class itself.

Cooking Trying to have lunch. You warm the potatoes? Strong or not? Minute or one and a half? (a hungry customer expresses obvious impatience) Sauce add? And sprinkle with dill? Bread need? Rye or wheat? (customer boils) One, two pieces?

Crumbling or a crust? Tea-coffee you want?

Black or green? Sugar? Payment in cash or by card? (customer convulses) Is there a map of our store? Today, in our store, there is a special offer - “buy a box of Crystal” and get a 30% discount on a ticket to the water park “Piterlend” from September 15 to September 16!

  • A call from a beautiful room.

(trembling, frightened voice in the phone) - Good afternoon, Petr Petrovich, the FDB bank is worried, my name is Marina, can I ask for a minute of your time? (as if looking around and crumpling a handkerchief in hand) - Thank you for being a client of our bank for a long time, and today we have prepared for you ... oh ... a special offer on consumer loans ...

We express our gratitude to you for the long-term cooperation and we hope for its continuation (one more sigh in the tube).

We are ready to offer a loan on the terms ... blah blah blah ...

  • Network coffee shop.

- Ready to place an order? I'm listening! So, a big latte and two croissants. Thank you, great choice! And you? Nothing? (pause) Thank you, great choice!

You can continue, but I think everything is already clear. In each of the three cases, the seller:

  • perfectly comply with corporate standards and demonstrates excellent knowledge of the script;
  • surrounds the client with care, expresses approval of his actions, emphasizes the importance and significance of the client;
  • Unbearably infuriates the client with the manner of communication.

Why enrages?

  • 1) The client has to make too many decisions and choose too many order parameters.

Remember the text of our living classic? "It was a good idea ... to eliminate all foreign supermarkets and replace them with Russian stalls. And so that in each stall there are two things for choosing the national one. It’s wisely deep. For the people ... should choose from two, not from three and not out of thirty three. Choosing from two, the people ... avoid the superfluous fuss of the restless, and therefore - satisfied. " This, of course, is hyperbole, but there is a grain of truth here;

  • 2) The client feels that there is not a person in front of him, but an android charged with a script.

More precisely, the client communicates with the machine by pronouncing the script, and for the client such a seller is "dehumanized" every second.

The sensitive ear of the client catches a clear dissonance: the maintenance of an expensive client is not trusted by the biorobot.

By the way, this is partly true: the more expensive the service, the greater the human presence in its sale and service. If you are a client of an ordinary retail branch of the bank, then, by calling "8-800", you will have to wade through the hell circles of the voice menu for a long time. And, finally, reach out to an unnamed call center employee. If you are a private banking client, in a couple of minutes you will resolve all questions with a real person who has a specific name.

Why is it unprofitable for you to confuse redundant service and real customer focus

In our market there are several positive examples of how companies that do not shine with the quality of service could at least get rid of its redundant components. Recall the cellular rates start zero. Millions of combinations. Some chore tariff constructors, dozens of options. What did the customer feel? Inability to keep it all in mind. And if so, behind all this diversity, he saw some kind of trick and cunning. (“Anyway, they will scout me for anything!”, He thought hopelessly). Some 10 years have passed, and everything has changed beyond recognition. Now, any operator of the “Big Three” offers approximately the same thing: a line of 5-6 tariffs with comparable and transparent components. Has it become more convenient for the client? Of course, yes. No painful calculations and comparisons!

Does this mean an increased customer focus of companies? Of course. Has it become more profitable for the client? Not sure.

Now anti-example. In one large and well-known bank, the manager decided that they would now have turquoise. And agile, and Kanban. And the bank will be with a human face. To do this, in each department, they put automata in the electronic queue, and two consultants were assigned to each machine gun (maybe this is not the case everywhere, but in those departments where I go from time to time - just like that). You come to take the ticket, and the consultants greet you so politely, ask why they came, and press the button on the machine for you.

You take the ticket and get in the queue. You wait about as much as you waited until the Age of Ajail, because there are few operators, one or two places are empty all the time.

Are button presses comfortable for the customer? No, convenience do not add exactly any, rather besyat. If I came, for example, to change the currency, so I’ll click on the "Currency exchange" button, I’ll figure it out somehow. Does the appearance of additional girls speak of increased customer focus? Formally, yes, but in fact - no, because no additional benefits for the client are created. Finally, in monetary terms, we have a net minus: girls do not generate a client flow, and they demand salaries.

Conclusion: it is unprofitable to confuse IP with real customer focus. Customer pays for convenience. So save the client from the inconvenience: take for him all this bunch of small decisions and pay yourself this work!

On the other hand, do not go too far: leave the client room for elementary independent action. He is still a reasonable creature.

Infinite choice is appropriate, perhaps, only in relation to the shape of the product, but not to the basic function. We can, for example, choose the covers for What's Up, but the basic settings of the messenger will still be as simple as mooing. They are set in three clicks. Now imagine: if you wanted the normal operation of What's Up, you would first have to select all these 100,500 settings ...?

Maybe it's all about people? Have you typed those?

Now I want to ask the attention of heads of marketing and HR services. Of course, cadres decide if not all, then half of the case for sure. The main requirement for a good seller (in addition to the overall responsibility, of course) I would call the ability to “get into the client’s slippers” to always be a couple of moves ahead. But at the same time to build communication in such a way that the client himself felt leading. How can we get closer to this ideal?

  • test candidates for sellers (and marketers) for emotional intelligence (EQ).

To do this, there are quite run-in and developed techniques. The seller’s high EQ is a guarantee that the seller will not, for example, offer a hell of a hurrying customer numerous goods for the action, tell him in what year the company entered the market, tell the customer how long it is important for the company. Well, you understand. A high marketer's EQ is a guarantee that he will first think about himself in the client's place, and then he will write an ingenious script for the seller;

  • ask the candidate - what company service does he consider cool? And why?
I am sure that if your opinions coincide, collaboration will be more productive.

If you don’t radically coincide - you probably shouldn’t stop at this candidacy;

  • Salespeople are those who must become the main target of your corporate training.

There are too many trainings, but much more often - in the company there are too few of them. In a training situation, you are not only pumping their sales skills. You can still clearly see who is who, and from whom any surprises can be expected. The trainings perfectly show the real motivation of your staff, especially if they capture a part of the non-working time. Someone goes with enthusiasm, because he will get a free tool with which he will earn more. Someone rolls his eyes and sighs - but look at these guys. Maybe they are random people in sales? (And I don’t need to tell me that everyone has their own circumstances, someone has children, someone has a cat alone at home. Just trust in 14 years of practice: a good seller will always find an opportunity for his own upgrade).

Main conclusion: be near, but leave the client alone

So, back to the metaphor of grandmothers, warm socks and borscht. All this is great, but somehow not sexy. Grandma, it happens, asks you to wear socks not so that you feel warm, but so that she is calm. So:

  • 1) the ability to keep a distance, in time to get out of the zone of personal responsibility of the client, the ability to strike a balance between the comfort of the client and their direct (commercial) interests - these are the main advantages of a wise grandmother and a good marketer (seller, web designer, etc.) - everyone who creates the service); be ready to come to the rescue, keep on hand sets of options and related products, but do not overdo it in an effort to predict absolutely all customer requests. Make some decisions instead, but do not show that this decision is actually yours;
  • 2) test your service, product, interface, script, not only on the focus group, but also on itself. Preferably several times with a break of 1-2 weeks. How do you like this? Are you sure that ok? The image of anxious grandmother does not stand before your eyes? Then you can sell it to customers;
  • 3) in my opinion, a wonderful question that you should ask yourself 10-20 times when designing a service: "And how to make it easier for the client?"

And then, together, we will overcome any redundancy and come to the triumph of meaningful, imperceptible, comfortable and appropriate service.

Watch the video: What Most People Don't Think About When Running a Business in 2019. Inside 4Ds (April 2020).


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