Editor’s Note: The Element of Surprise in Good Customer Service

Good customer service can go a long way towards impressing your customers and ensuring that they stick around.

Recently, my husband and I started receiving text messages from our wireless provider, warning us that we were approaching our monthly data limit. We had purchased a new smartphone for our daughter, and it seemed to be gobbling data 24/7.

Within minutes our problem was solved, and we were still the company’s paying customers.

When we got the alarming message that we’d hit 90 percent, with more than a week left in the month, we faced the inevitable: the dreaded phone call to customer service. My husband gathered up his talking points, put on his best I’ll-take-my-­business-elsewhere manner, and dialed.

Surprise: Customer service picked right up. The agent was sympathetic and shared stories of her own frustrations with her kids’ cellphone exploits. Listening from the other room, I noticed the edge come off my husband’s voice. Within minutes our problem was solved, and we were still the company’s paying customers.

Such is the power of the personal touch in customer service, and it works the same way in associations. As Joe Rominiecki reports, the California Dental Association has embodied that philosophy in Terry Fong, its member concierge, who calls about 1,000 new members every year to welcome them to the association and start forging personal connections. Fong and her colleagues believe that such one-on-one interaction will help members feel special, cared for, and part of an organization that they’ll want to rejoin at renewal time—and preliminary results suggest they’re right.

Everyone has customer service horror stories to tell. It’s the positive experiences that you want your members talking about. Go ahead—surprise them.

Terry Fong of the California Dental Association. (photo by Robert Houser)

Julie Shoop

By Julie Shoop

Julie Shoop is the Editor-in-Chief of Associations Now. MORE

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