Shep Hyken's Customer Service Blog

Four Customer Service Lessons from a Stevie Award Winner

Congratulations to Squaremouth, who just won a Gold Stevie Award for Customer Service Department of the Year – for the fourth time! (For those that don’t know, the Stevie is an international business award that recognizes top performing organizations in several categories including customer service.) Squaremouth is an online travel insurance company that compares travel insurance products from every major provider in the United States. They allow travelers the opportunity to compare and purchase travel insurance using their “comparison engine” that has over 40,000 customer reviews.

So, how did Squaremouth win the Stevie? Steve Benna, one of their marketing specialists, shared some of their “secret sauce.” Here are four of the many reasons why Squaremouth won, and how they deliver Amazing Customer Service:

  1. Customer service is everybody’s job. Let’s start with the most important reason first. Customer service is not a department, and Squaremouth knows it. Every employee spends time on the phone with customers. They get to hear what customers are thinking about, asking about and more. Direct contact with the customer is usually the responsibility of people in customer-facing jobs, such as sales and support, yet there is no better way to get all employees to understand how their good work impacts their customers than for everyone to have some facetime with customers.
  1. Unique perks can help create job fulfillment and add to the company culture. – A great customer experience starts with the employees. What’s happening on the inside of an organization is felt on the outside by the customer. Employees at Squaremouth enjoy their company culture and the customers can feel it. Squaremouth has several perks that are typical of larger companies – and a few that aren’t so typical – that are greatly appreciated by their employees. One perk that stands out is the Squaremouth boat that is used for employee “sunset cruises” after work, which is also available for employees to enjoy on their free time.
  1. Build trust by “down-selling” the customer. – This is a very customer focused strategy. Most companies try and find ways to add on to a sale or “up-sell” a customer to something more expensive. Squaremouth goes the opposite direction and actually suggests lower priced products that are perfectly appropriate for the customer. This creates trust and confidence with their customers. Their customers know when they buy from Squaremouth, they are paying for exactly what they need and nothing more.
  1. Have a guarantee that creates customer confidence. – Let’s end with a powerful concept, which is to guarantee your products and service. The right guarantee creates confidence, which leads to potential repeat business. Squaremouth has a Zero Complaint Guarantee. That’s quite a bold statement, but it’s true. If a customer has a problem with one of the insurance companies that Squaremouth recommends, they will mediate on behalf of the customer. If the complaint is not resolved to Squaremouth’s satisfaction, they drop the insurance company. This concept generates a tremendous amount of customer confidence and is one of the many reasons Squaremouth has enjoyed phenomenal success.

These four ideas can work for any company. Customer service really is everyone’s job. The culture of a company is the heart of its customer service. Don’t sell something to customers they don’t need. And, create a guarantee that instills customer confidence. Does all of this just seem like common sense? To some it may, but then why doesn’t every company win the Stevie?

Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, keynote speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact or www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to www.thecustomerfocus.com. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken

(Copyright © MMXVII, Shep Hyken)

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  1. Steve, my company is one which will most likely never win such an award- at least, ot in the near future. Many of the folk who work there just don’t understand the concept of customer service being everyone’s main concern. Our three campus bookstores can’t even get the gist of communicating effectively with each other. Being the supervisor for our smallest location, I feel that I am the last to know of new policies and usually find out about them thi after the fact of the policy going into effect. Our customer service ( definitely NOT at my location!) needs much to be desired. I have made suggestions in the past, but they seem to fall on deaf ears – the One Voice Crying in the Wilderness Syndrome . How can a college be for Students First (their motto) when the college’s staff and support can’t grasp this concept?

  2. Congratulations to Squaremouth! I really liked the third item, Shep, “down-selling” the customers. As a consumer myself, I believe I would always go for the lower cost but would still also consider, of course, quality. It builds my trust, knowing that the company knows how to cater to what I need (not just want). Thanks for the wonderful article, as always! 🙂

    • Yes. We never want to overpay. A company we know that won’t overcharge us or sell us what we don’t need is a company I can trust… and want to do biz with!

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