Wow! 2) Learning from examples

When I was setting up this site my intention was to provide a source of stories about superior service from my own and others’ perspective. So I was particularly pleased to find a book that contains just that. The only problem is that I didn’t write it.

Wow! That’s What I Call Service! by Don Hales and Derek Williams is a collection of customer service stories submitted by customers for Derek Williams’ Wow! Awards and the National Customer Service Awards, which Don Hales has organised and chaired the judging panel.

It’s an excellent collection which shows how superior service can arise in situations that range from the everyday – a visit to the dentist – to the exceptional – a wedding in a hotel saved from disaster when the sprinkler system soaked the bride’s dress the night before the wedding.

For me the best examples are those where an organisation – Yorkshire Water is a very good example – has collectively pulled itself up from poor service (OWW!) to excellent (WOW!) through a concerted, customer-centred effort where the whole organisation is engaged.

The collection is encouraging and it’s also a cause for concern. It’s encouraging because it provides examples of – as the authors put it – “catching people doing things right” and also because there are examples of superior service breaking out in unlikely places – accountants seem to have got the bug, which makes the preparation of my next tax return sound like more fun than it should be.

It’s a cause for concern because, for all the wealth of examples in the book it still seems unusual to encounter exceptional customer service. Actually that’s literally and statistically true but the implication is that the examples in the book are in the minority and that the majority of us experience service that is just OK (functional) or worse.

It’s clear that, in spite of improvements over the past decade or so, delivering superior service remains a challenge for many organisations. This book provides a wealth of examples and stories to inspire people to rise to it.

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