How Much Service Is Too Much Service?

We all want to give our customers great service, but do we know how great it should be?


People often ask, ‘What level of service should we strive to provide? Should we give “Unbelievable!” service if our customers are not willing to pay for it?’

My answer is definitely no!

Don’t go to the moon on service if your business model on the moon doesn’t work. No sense ‘serving yourself to death’, bending over backwards but going broke in the process.

You need to determine what level of service your business can provide, and match that with what your customers are willing to pay.

Take note: customers rarely put voluntary limits on their service expectations. That’s why making clear service agreements is so important to you…and your customers.

You must communicate clearly what you promise to provide, and what you are not promising, too!

The manager of a local Internet Service Provider approached me with this relevant complaint:

His staff go into customers’ homes and offices to install modems and communications software. They train their customers to access new e-mail accounts and surf the World Wide Web.

Before his staff can leave, however, office-based customers start asking about unrelated hardware compatibility, new software upgrades and suggestions on how to fix non-working printers!

Eager home-based customers insist on help installing new games and joysticks, debugging new versions of Windows, even assistance repairing their children’s Nintendo!

His staff’s explanation that, ‘We are just an Internet Service Provider, not a computer repair service’, seem to fall upon deaf ears. As far as his customers are concerned, ‘You are the computer people, and we have a computer problem. Now that you are in our home or office…fix it!’

One look at his brochure reveals the source of the problem. It reads: ‘Enter the digital age! Modernize your life! Capture the computer advantage!’

Plenty of glittering encouragements to buy, but no clear and detailed listing of the actual service promise.

To eliminate the problem, this company must clarify and specify what services they do provide – and what services they do not.

For example:

We provide A, B and C.

We do not provide X, Y or Z in the normal service package.

We can arrange X, Y and Z for you at an additional charge, or

We have associates who can do X, Y and Z. Reliable referrals are provided on request.

Key Learning Point

Be sure the service agreements you make with your customers and internal partners are complete and clear. Misunderstanding can lead to disappointment once delivery of your service is underway.

Action Steps

Check with your customers and staff. Find out where misunderstanding and disagreements arise. Then look closely at your proposals, contracts and service level agreements. Wherever uncertainty is found, replace it with accuracy, clarity and understanding.

Note: Don’t use this principle to avoid regularly upgrading your service agreements. With technology you may improve the quality of your service without increasing your costs. (Your competitors are working on it now.)

About the Author

Ron Kaufman is an internationally acclaimed educator for quality service. He is author of the bestselling series “UP Your Service!” and founder of “UP Your Service College”.

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