The typical holiday season often leaves me morphing into a bit of a Scrooge. The crowds, the rush, the stress… it’s enough to draw a “Bah-Humbug” from even the most organized consumer.

But this year was different.

Among the hustle and bustle, I encountered three delightful customer service teams who not only surprised and delighted me, but saved me from my Scrooge-y self.

My story began as I awaited the arrival of gifts on my doorstep. Despite the tracking information claiming they were delivered, nothing was in sight.

Lucky me, this happened 4 times in just 3 weeks (I could feel the transformation into Ebenezer beginning to take place).

Armed with self righteous indignation, I picked up the phone and prepared for battle with three mega-sized companies: Amazon,, and Duluth Trading Company.

But the battle never came.

To my surprise, I was rendered speechless when there was no “he said/she said”, no hassle, no fuss…Zero, zip, zilch, nada.

In fact, all three of the fabulous retailers (, and Duluth Trading Company) apologized profusely, and recreated my order on the spot. They even went so far as to overnight the missing packages.

Clearly, these three have got something special going on. Rarely does a customer service call leave me feeling warm and fuzzy (I just wanted to wrap them up in a great big girly hug).

Have I become so used to sub-par customer service that this kind of care seems beyond compare? The simple answer is…Yes.

The difference was profound. They didn’t just customer service me. They customer cared about me.

It’s a novel idea, reminiscent of Miracle on 34th Street. It’s the old, “If we don’t have it, we’ll tell you where you can get it.” Only my situation might read a bit more like “If you didn’t get it, we’ll send it again!” That’s caring. And, it was EASY. What could be better?

This is the type of interaction we all hope our own customers experience. Want to apply it within your company? Just remember this simple acronym: CARES

C is for Connection.
Emotions are tricky things. They can color an experience with your customer faster than red paint on a white shoe. When your customer has a negative experience, it leaves a lasting impression (much like the errant paint on said shoe).

Connecting with your customer works to prevent a bad situation from getting worse. Take it from Forrester, “customer service organizations must strive to form an emotional bond with their customers by looking out for their best interests, identifying points of friction, and empowering agents to do the right thing for the customer.” Forrester – Trends 2016: The Future of Customer Service

A is for Apologies and Answers
An apology goes a long, long way in connecting with your customer (this trick works well with spouses, too).

Follow that sincerity with answers to customer questions and concerns and you’ve earned yourself an A+!

“Customers want to be empowered to get a question answered or an issue resolved at any point during their engagement journey with a company, and they expect easy service interactions. Over half of us online adults will abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their questions, and 73% say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service — up two points from 2012.” Forrester – Trends 2016: The Future of Customer Service

R is for Right
The “right” way to respond can often feel subjective (unless you’re female, then we’re always right…right? I kid, I kid.)

When it comes to your customers, there really is a right way to respond – by providing the right service experience — either self-service or agent assisted — to the right user at the right time.

“In 2016, organizations will begin to extend the power of analytics to prescribe the right set of steps for customers or agents to more effectively service customers. This includes correlating online behavior with requests for service and suggesting changes to agent schedules and forecasts. They will learn to better route a customer to an agent who can most effectively answer a question based on skills and behavior data. They will better understand customer call patterns and preempt future calls.” Forrester – Trends 2016: The Future of Customer Service

E is for Easily Empower and Engage
It’s a fact that happier agents lead to happier customers. For every 1% improvement in employee satisfaction, there is a directly correlated 1% improvement in customer satisfaction. (Source: SQM Group) That’s powerful.

So, how do you make it happen? Through empowerment and engagement. “Empower agents to use their knowledge and experience to make better decisions for customers by beginning a shift from efficiency success metrics to ones that highlight customer satisfaction and customer lifetime value.” Forrester – Trends 2016: The Future of Customer Service

You already know that how you Engage with your customers impacts how your customers look at your brand or product. But did you know that according to American Express, 70% of Americans are willing to spend an average of 13% more with companies they feel provide outstanding customer service?

All customer engagement efforts should be clearly driven in the direction of resolution – and today, many are engaging proactively with their customers. “Proactive engagements anticipate the what, when, where, and how for customers and prioritize information and functionality to speed customer time-to-completion…Companies are reacting to customer demand for more personalized, targeted service experiences and are currently pushing the envelope on proactive engagement. “Market overview: chat solutions For customer service” Forrester report.

Everyone likes things Easy. Simplify my life and you’ll be hard pressed to wipe the grin off my face. As a customer, I’ll be stuck to you like glue.

“Companies must make it easy for customers to get service over the touchpoint and channel of their choice at any point in their journey. If companies do so, they will find that customers contact them more frequently and over a greater range of channels. These contacts increase the opportunities for companies to foster ongoing dialogues and relationships with their customers that strengthen loyalty and retention.”

And, finally…

Satisfaction and smiles = repeat business.

If you satisfy my need and make me smile, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ll be back (and I’m not alone).

“Good customer experiences drive revenue growth. Customers are more loyal, and loyal customers are more willing to consider another purchase from a company, less likely to switch business to a competitor, and likely to act as an advocate for the company’s products and services. The US Customer Experience index, Q1 2015” Forrester report.

So how about you? What do you offer? Customer Service or Customer CARE?