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Imagine your door bell rings and the pizza guy at your doorstep says “This is the pizza you were about to order.” Psychic pizza. Pretty enticing thought, right? Customer Service, extraordinaire. Chances are you would continue to order pizza from that place for the rest of your life.

John A. Goodman, leading customer experience researcher, innovator, and entrepreneur, has coined the term ‘psychic pizza’ a little while ago and has written this article, which is worth reading.

“The ‘Psychic Pizza’ concept refers to anticipating and delivering education and/or service to customers ‘just in time’ or, better yet, before they even know they need it.  A pizza delivery man would say as he approached your door, ‘This is the pizza you were about to order!’”

I am using this reference because it really hits home on what exceptional customer service is all about. Many customer service entities focus on resolving their customer issues faster. Nothing against that, but I would argue it misses the mark. Why? Because it merely tries to make an existing issue less painful rather than trying to prevent it in the first place. Using the pizza analogy one more time; yes, it is pleasing to get my pizza delivered in 15 minutes instead of 30 minutes. I’d like that, too. But I’d really be blown away if the pizza guy would knock at my door before I even called. THAT’s exceptional, because they anticipated my need.

What does that mean for customer service?

In today’s world where according to best-selling author Shep Hyken 59% will try a new brand or company for a better service experience, the number one priority for every service professional has to be delivering exceptional customer service, every time. How, you might ask? Here’s my list of ingredients that will add to this much-needed best-in-class service experience:

  • Know your customer and his needs: Having to say who you are and which product you’ve bought, and explain your issue five times to five different agents during one service interaction is simply not acceptable. Yet, companies are still out there doing exactly this to their customers. Which means, this can be a prime opportunity to steal some of your competitor’s customers. Make sure your agents have access to all information about your customers (think purchase history, warranty data, complete customer profile, data from social media, browsing history from your company’s self-service knowledge base, etc).
  • Serve your customers on their terms: Your customers don’t care about your problems, they care about their own. It’s not important that you offer customer support over the phone and in-person if your customers prefer to search for answers in your knowledge base themselves, in a self-service mode, or perhaps from peers in an online community. Make sure you understand those preferences, and offer exactly this degree of choice to your customers.
  • Be consistent: With the ongoing proliferation of digital communication channels it is more important than ever to ensure that customers receive the same experience regardless of the channel they choose. Digital customer service (through social media channels like Twitter and Facebook) can’t be managed separately from traditional channels, nor should it be bolted-on as an afterthought. Chances are that your customers find it frustrating when they experience inconsistencies or roadblocks due to information siloes across channels.

How is your company using customer service to deliver psychic pizza great customer experiences? I look forward to your comments.

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    1. Kai Petzelt Post author

      Thanks for your comment Karuna. You made a very important point: Combining anticipated needs with the ability to execute is what makes a real difference – or, as Thomas Edison phrased it: “Vision without execution is hallucination”…

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