This summer, I was privileged to work on the Italian to English translation of Carlo Pignataro’s second book, “Serve with Style” together with an amazing translator Fuschia Hutton.
Carlo is an elite luxury sales consultant, known as ‘The Luxury Coach’, and his second book is devoted to the thematic of SERVICE, as provided by high profile companies across different sectors.
The sharp difference I noted with this book – amongst many priceless benefits to its readers – is that the author provides lots of concrete examples and stories from his own vast experience in the luxury field, including how service is perceived at different levels.
After finally putting down what was truly a captivating read, I was prompted to ask myself a number of questions about my own business, as well as my perceptions around service in general:
- · What does providing “a good service” or even “an excellent service” mean?
- · When choosing to improve your customer service, where should you start?
- · What are the criteria of a satisfactory, good or brilliant service?
The localisation projects I work on have a huge impact on me -often influencing my approach to marketing – and this book was no exception.
While reading the book, I completed a few of Carlo’s exercises for my own business. I’d like to share one of them with you, within the context of the localisation industry.
It’s called the “Five C’s of Customer Service”
In this case, the diamond is a metaphor for customer service.
“Colour, Cut, Clarity, and Carat weight are the four C’s which indicate a diamond’s value. Just like a diamond, as the most valuable and distinctive part of a company, customer service should shine brightly.”
The idea behind the Five C’s of Customer Service is to help companies understand what is meant by ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ service and give them a simple concept they can use every day to evaluate their progress.
The book also provides clear descriptions of how this principle works in real-life scenario of a restaurant or IT department. You can read these examples in the book and I am sure you will find them impressive.
As for me, I tried to think of similar situations that might occur within the Localisation industry…
These were my results:
A person gets in touch with a translation company via the contact form on their website and describes his request. He needs to translate his company website into several languages.
Level of customer service: CORRECT
The company answers by email, asking him to send a link to his website. They tell him they will get back to him with an estimate within 48 hours.
The conclusion: while we cannot complain about the service, there is nothing impressive about it. This kind of response might feel like an automated reply, devoid of human touch (like a chatbot).
As Carlo explains in “Serve with Style”, the person providing this level of service does so in accordance with their role but does not go any further. The service level is more oriented towards following procedures than delivering on a customer’s request. This ensures that the resulting experience remains cold and impersonal.
Level of customer service: CORDIAL
The company answers by email. The email is polite and friendly, with a sense of human connection. The person asks the potential client to provide more details about his request and tells him that they will get back to him soon.
If we were to evaluate this response against the book’s criteria, this service is identical to the Correct level, but the customer may receive a more positive impression of the company, as their actions are accompanied with greater levels of friendliness.
Their response is not generic, so it is perceived more favourably.
Level of customer service: COOL
The company answers by email on the same day and ask for details, returning promptly with a range of solutions they can offer. They outline several package options, asking the client to choose the right fit for his purposes. They reply quickly, knowing that a “website translation” holds a lot of weight for their client.
The COOL customer service level sees the service provider behaving with professionalism and courtesy while demonstrating strong empathy towards the customer. It appears they are genuinely trying to help and are willing to go out of their way to deliver on this. This customer service level is most likened to “going the extra mile.”, as it is most commonly understood.
Level of customer service: CHARMING
The company answers by email very quickly and cordially asks the client to fill in a brief with a range of important questions about his request. These are questions such as: What is the purpose of translating the website? Which sector does the client operate in? – all the hidden nuances which may influence the final outcome. These questions are delivered either in written form or during a scheduled phone call.
Here we can see an element of educating the client about your services.
As described in “Serve with Style”, the Charming customer service level gives the customer something extra during their interactions, providing them with interesting prompts, information, and knowledge which helps them appreciate the value of the service.
That said, as Carlo explains,
“The biggest problem with Charming service is that only someone with higher than average skills and, often, broader knowledge than what is directly connected to their duties, can provide it.”
Providing a more discerning service level also means hiring for the right attitude and aptitude.
Level of customer service: CHIC
The company gets in touch quickly with a cordial request to schedule a call (ideally a video call if there is no opportunity for a meeting in person), outlining that website translation into multiple languages should be approached seriously while considering a range of nuances which can each influence the outcome. During the video call, they are very careful and attentive listeners (!) only asking questions which help the customer make a considered choice. Instead of providing dry facts about their work, they draw meaningful examples from their practice to show how website translation proved crucial for the success of another client going global. After careful listening, they offer a completely TAILORED solution based on the UNIQUE needs of this client’s company.
“Try and do everything necessary to provide a Charming service, and then let your customer know that you are doing it just for them.” is the advice Carlo shares.
“This feeling of personalisation, of exclusivity, translating the words “just for you” into actions provide an unforgettable customer experience! This is the essence of Chic service, the highest level you can aspire to.”
In short: People buy from people. Don’t be afraid to be personal, curious, and supportive when approaching a potential partnership with new clients. They will remember it!
I hope you’ve found these examples useful and I am grateful to Carlo Pignataro for penning such a helpful and illustrative guide.
And now, I’d like to hear your thoughts…
How do you think customer service could be improved within your industry?
P.S. For those of you who are interested in reading this fascinating book, you will find the Amazon link in the comments section.