Field service organizations could learn a few things about customer service from companies in vastly different industries. Take Nordstrom, for example. High-end retail and field service are polar opposites in many respects, but happy customers are the common denominator of a healthy business. Here’s a look at what field service pros can learn about great service, whether the customer needs high heels, a new faucet or simply a technician who arrives on time:

Comcast CEO Promises ‘Uber-Like’ Experience

Comcast might not be the first company that comes to mind when you hear the phrase “great customer service.” From dreaded service windows to ignoble titles like “Worst Company in America,” the cable giant is often loathed, not loved. Comcast, however, is taking steps to mend its reputation for poor service, and the latest involves mimicking popular alternative taxi service Uber.

CEO Brian Roberts a praises Uber’s customer-centric experience, which allows users to order a private taxi with the tap of their finger. In an interview with USA Today, Roberts calls Uber’s experience “fantastic” and teases a new app that will allow Comcast customers to fix problems themselves and, if necessary, to schedule an appointment. “I need to (be able) to push the button and see where my truck is. We’re beginning to make our service look like Uber,” Roberts says.

Read more at USA Today

Two Keys: Standards and Employee Empowerment

Few companies are as revered for great customer service as Nordstrom, the national department store chain. Turns out, the company’s secret sauce isn’t so secret. It boils down to employee empowerment and clear standards. The company hires friendly, intelligent people and trusts them to do right by the customer. But — and this is equally as important — Nordstrom holds employees accountable to strict standards that guide employees and ensure service is consistent.

Micah Solomon, a customer experience expert and a Forbes contributor, writes: “You can recognize both elements immediately if you venture into any Nordstrom store. Employees are clearly empowered, but it’s equally clear that Nordstrom is running a really tight — maybe the tightest there is — retail ship.”

Read more at Forbes

Is Great Service Too Costly?

Empowerment and standards are a powerful way to ensure positive customer interactions. That only works, however, if companies practice what they preach. Too often, companies give lip service to employee empowerment, but then punish employees who act on their best judgment. As Jon Picoult, founder of the customer service consulting firm Watermark Consulting, tells USA Today, “slogan leadership” harms the customers and employees alike. “It encourages the employee to feel empowered and make decisions, only to be reprimanded by the same manager when they make what’s viewed as a poor judgment call in the course of delivering service,” Picoult says.

The takeaway is that empowerment without standards (or sincerity) is hollow.

Read more at USA Today

New Biz? Please Existing Customers First

Every business needs new customers, but don’t obsess over drumming up new business at the expense of current customers. In Fast Company, consultant and CEO Eric Schiffer offers five tips to avoid alienating current and future customers alike. To wit:

  • Names Matter: Think of them as guests, not customers. “We are always happy to see them and strive to make their time with us a great experience,” Schiffer says.
  • Beck and Call: At the heart of great service is the ability to predict what customers (er, guests) will need, even before they know they need something.
  • Show Respect: “It costs nothing to be courteous, but you can pay dearly if you aren’t,” Schiffer says .
  • Remember Who’s Boss: Walmart didn’t become the world’s largest retailer by chance. Founder Sam Walton knew that the customer made the ultimate hiring and firing decisions with his or her checkbook.
  • Don’t Point Fingers: If you make a mistake, apologize and make it right. Or, as Schiffer says, “Well done is better than well said.”

Read more at Fast Company