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. 😉

Written by 

I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

2 thoughts on “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. 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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