With Customer Service, Nothing Beats ACES

It seems like there’s a surge of customer service activity; I’ve been getting a lot of requests (from clients and press) on the topic. Here’s why I think it’s so hot:

  • The Web has heightened expectations of self-service and responsiveness
  • Call center technologies make it easier for agents to solve problems (but not every company uses it equally well)
  • Many of customers’ “moments of truth” occur during customer service
  • People used to tell 10 people about a bad experience, now they can post a blog or a video on YouTube and tell thousands (or more) people

So what can companies do to improve customer service? ACES. This is an acronym that I just developed (this week) for the four key things that companies need to design into their customer service interactions:

  • Accountability (take responsibility for fixing the problem)
  • Communication (clearly communicate the process and set expectations)
  • Empathy (acknowledge the impact that the situation has on the customer)
  • Solution (at the end of the day, make sure to solve the problem)

The bottom line: Your customers deserve nothing less than ACES.

Addendum (4/17): Based on the comment from Justin, I’ve updated the acronym from ACES to CARES. So I guess I was wrong, something is better than ACES. ;-)

About Bruce Temkin
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, marketing, interaction design, customer service, and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

2 Responses to With Customer Service, Nothing Beats ACES

  1. Where do you sit on the use of SERVQUAL RATER for measuring the quality of services? (Reliabiliy, Assurance, Tangibles, Empathy, Responsiveness)

    I think the above acronym is great for “when things go wrong” but how do people (and companies) evaluate the overall customer experience?

    Responsiveness would be a great addition above, as the function of how quickly the issue was handled would have a big impact on the perceived experience.

  2. Bruce Temkin says:

    Justin: I think that if a company lives up to RATER (SERVQUAL is way too complex for my liking), they’ll do just fine. But I don’t love using “tangibles” (the “T” in “RATER”) as one of the items, because it doesn’t have a clear meaning on its own. I had been thinking about “responsiveness” within a couple of other items (communications and solution), but I can definitely see the merit of separating it out. If we added “responsiveness,” then the acronym could be “CARES.” Given the great acronym, I’m inclined to add it. Look for a post in the next few days where I make the change from ACES to CARES.

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