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This is part of our ongoing series on Scaling Customer Service, based on our Customer Service Scaling Timeline. This month we're covering Stage 6.

come in we'll break a rule to please youWhen your company is small, it’s easy to improvise to delight your customers. You know most of them. You remember them. And you know each member of your customer service team well (and could probably hit them with a paper airplane from where you’re sitting). Joe from Company X wants a discount? Sure. Fred from Company Y is going to be in town? Have him come by for a beer!

But once your company gets large, this is a much bigger challenge. You don’t necessarily know the Freds and Joes. You don’t even know all your customer service agents, and they may know you as a boss, not as a person. You’ve put customer service training & guidelines in place to ensure quality. But how do you ensure that you’re creating customer delight?

If you’re hiring the right, empathetic people, they already know how to delight customers. At a large company, the challenge is letting them know that they can. As one of many, your reps may feel expendable and reluctant stick their necks out. They might see an opportunity to delight a customer, but if it costs a little money or doesn’t fall into any of the guidelines they’ve been given, they’ll pass it by.

The solution? You need to empower your employees to go outside of the box to make customers happy.

How do you ensure this happens? Emphasize, repeat, and celebrate. You should certainly tell your staff that they can take liberties with pleasing customers. But to convince them, you’re going to need to keep repeating this and celebrate employees who take this extra step. You have to build this into your culture, not just a memo.

Zappos celebrates their 8-hour phone calls, sending flowers to mourning customers, and speaking in the 3rd person. Sure, part of celebrating this is for the press. But it’s just as much for the employees, so they really know that they can spend those 8 hours on the phones if they think it’s the right thing to do.

(Before you freak out about 8 hours on the phone, remember that every culture is different. You set the guide rails for your team so they know what’s reasonable. Even 30 minutes on the phone might be delightful for your customers.)

If you’re really ready to embrace some risk and try to delight your customers, you need to dive in headfirst. Improvisation requires freedom, and the sooner you build a culture that supports it, the sooner you’ll start getting reviews like this one.

zappos review

Rule photo courtesy of Me & the Sysop.