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July 2015

Forbes

How did your last customer service experience make you feel? Was it almost like being in love? If not, then perhaps you didn’t get the kind of service you deserve. TrendWatching cites study results of consumers tested under laboratory conditions where 63% of the participants said they felt their heart rate increase when they thought about receiving great customer service.

The Psychology Of Great Customer Service

by John Ward

How did your last customer service experience make you feel? Was it almost like being in love?

If not, then perhaps you didn’t get the kind of service you deserve. TrendWatching cites study results of consumers tested under laboratory conditions where 63% of the participants said they felt their heart rate increase when they thought about receiving great customer service. For 53% of those tested, receiving great service triggered the same cerebral reactions as feeling loved.

This might sound a bit extreme, but I think this study is on to something. Great customer service is as much about human interaction as it is about getting information or resolving a problem.

Putting a New Shine on Customer Service

Some companies get this.

Bona has been a leader in hardwood floor care for more than 95 years. This family-owned business makes products that range from stains and cleaners to professional sanding equipment. And its worldwide customers include both homeowners and contractors. Bona is even the official hardwood floor care partner of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Customer satisfaction is clearly a priority at Bona. “We want to provide the ultimate customer service experience,” says Bona’s vice president of sales and operations Richard Goering in a recent video.

And to help make sure this happens, Bona is applying a brand new shine to its customer service strategy.

Call Me Linda

Bona starts by putting a human face to the voice at the other end of the telephone line. Using a persona helps Bona better visualize the consumer who is buying the floor care products down at their favorite big box retail store.

“We like to call our end-consumer Linda,” says Goering. And as he describes her, Linda is a college-educated mother of two who treats her hardware floors like a fine piece of furniture. When Linda has questions or concerns about caring for her floors, she calls Bona.

“In the past, it took us an average of two calls to solve Linda’s problem,” admits Goering. “Today we have the ability to solve her problems immediately.”

What’s the difference? Faster access to information, for one thing.

Bona has rolled out new solutions to replace the outdated manual processes that once slowed down its response times.

Now when Linda contacts Bona, a pop-up screen lets the customer service representative (CSR ) know exactly who is calling. And the CSR can type in keywords based on Linda’s inquiry to quickly access an integrated knowledge database that includes self-help videos, material safety data sheets, and product-specific instructions.

Sharing the Experience

There is something else that Bona understands about the human side of customer service. People like to share their experiences – good and bad – and these days more and more of us are turning to social media to do the sharing.

A recent article in The Guardian, for example, reports that 39% of consumers surveyed actively provide feedback to companies online. Further, one in four social media users in the United Kingdom used these platforms to voice customer complaints within the last three months.

No surprise then, that Bona is also monitoring the buzz on social media.

When Linda’s problems are resolved, she is quite likely to go out to Facebook or Twitter TWTR -1.17% to talk about her experience. “We can see whether or not she had a good customer service engagement,” Goering says. “If so, we can actually help spread the good news . . . and send her a coupon just to say thanks!”

So is this true love, or simply really satisfying customer service?

I don’t know. Ask Linda.