Common Sense That Isn’t Always So Common

A Lesson from “The Cult of the Customer”

For years I’ve been preaching that a lot of customer service is common sense that, unfortunately, isn’t so common. It is the great companies that consistently deliver an experience that meets, if not exceeds, expectations. And, much of this experience is common sense.

Jon Osborn, research director at J.D. Power and Associates backs this up in a recent study of the automotive industry. In an explanation of how and why the leading brands were rated so high by their customers, Mr. Osborn stated:

“There are several practices that the highest-ranked brands consistently perform that help elevate customer service satisfaction levels, including providing prompt service appointments; greeting the customer immediately on arrival; knowing the vehicle’s service history; returning vehicles to customers in a clean condition; and offering alternative transportation to customers leaving their cars for service. These courtesies may seem intuitive, but many dealers do not provide them consistently.”

Mr. Osborn says these courtesies may seem intuitive; in other words: common sense! And it appears that while many dealers are doing them, it is inconsistency that brings down their customer satisfaction scores.

Most of us know what good customer service is. It is intuitive: common sense. So, why do some companies have problems delivering customer service?

The simple answer is lack of consistency, and the reason for that is twofold: (1) Not recognizing great service opportunities and (2) little or no training.

I’ve just given you the “Why.” Now it is time to give you the “How To.” Here is the lesson – from “The Cult of the Customer.”

The answer, while simple, can be complicated to implement.

Here is something to get you started.

  1. The first step is to list out every point of contact the customer has with your company in a typical sales process. Be as comprehensive with the list as possible. These are called Touch Points. These Touch Points form a chain of events. Ideally, you would want to include a team, if not all, of employees from different parts of your company to complete this exercise. (If you are a solo entrepreneur you can create this list yourself.)
  2. Now study the list and determine where the weak links in the chain might be. Brainstorm on how to strengthen these links or Touch Points.
  3. Now, make this your own personal case study. Show what works well and what could happen if these Touch Points are mismanaged.
  4. Train your employees. Make sure they are aware of these Touch Points and the opportunities and pitfalls they hold.

This is just a start. Want a little help? Download a form from the Cult of the Customer website that can help you “map” the process. We call it the Touch Points Chain. Go to

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