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 am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/in/brucetemkin

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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.