What defines good customer service? We think it’s creating positive defining moments — those times when you meet or exceed customer expectations. And it isn’t limited to the support team; it starts with sales and includes many touchpoints throughout every business transaction.

Creating positive defining moments is important because we know customers will flee a relationship if they have as few as two bad experiences, and neutral interactions will entice them to do business with a competitor.

So what does a positive defining moment look like and how can you create more of them? We decided to ask some customer support experts to weigh in on the issue:

  • Philippe Mesritz is a Director of Global Customer Support, Operations and Community Experience with Lithium Technologies, a computer software company based in San Francisco.
  • Ken Shampo is the Director of Support at Maintenance Connection, a leading provider of cloud-based CMMS Software.
  • Danielle Dalton is the Associate Vice President of Client Services at iModules Software, the leading online constituent engagement management provider for educational institutions.

Q: What does a positive defining moment look like in the eyes of your customers?

Philippe Mesritz: One of Lithium’s key beliefs is “Taking Customer Success Personally.” Our customers hold us accountable and are very vocal when we miss it, but also when we’re able to meet and exceed their expectations. A defining moment happens when the team blows their socks off with a level of service that’s unexpected. As an example, it is simplest to use a direct quote from a customers. “And the crowd goes wild and screams: ‘Javier! Javier! Javier! Thank you!’” More seriously, ‘I really appreciated that Javier took the time to help me solve this issue via different calls. It was beyond my expectations.’”

Ken Shampo: In my experience, this is often seen in our newer customers as our veteran customers have come to expect a high level of service.  In our industry the average response time is 24 hours, where we solve two-thirds of our tickets in that time frame. The first time we work with a customer, they are not expecting such a fast turnaround, and it is always a pleasure to see their reactions.

Q: What are your top three tips you give to new customer service reps to help them deliver more positive defining moments?  

Ken Shampo: Keep Communicating. Customers want to know what is going on with their issues so continuous updates let them know their issue is not being put to the side. Stay Positive. I recently challenged my team to bring me a response they felt could not be said in a positive way, and so far they have not been able to. Focusing on what you can do, sending a positive message keeps the customers focused on the positive, too. Manage Expectations. If you know something is going to take longer then it normally would, let the customer know right away. It is so much easier to do this in the beginning of the conversation vs. after the customer feels a solution should have already been delivered. Be proactive not reactive.

Danielle Dalton: 1) Always be empathetic and treat others the way you would like be treated. By always putting yourself in your customer’s shoes, you gain a much deeper understanding of their situation and will in turn provide better service; 2) Always lead with kindness. You can never go wrong by being kind. 3) Don’t take it personally. It’s rarely about you as an individual, so learn to let uneasy situations roll off of your back easily so that you can happily move on to the next customer and keep your personal stress low.

Q: What do you do to reinforce these tips and best practices so they are always top of mind to your reps?

Ken Shampo: My team has a weekly meeting called “Smarter Not Harder,” and we focus on ways to be a better Support Team. We use this time to refresh our soft skills, show new ways we have learned to tackle an issue, discuss new features with our product, etc.  In addition, if you have your teams lead these meetings and you keep the topics fresh, everyone will take something away.


Defining moments are reflected in an organization’s Key Performance Indicators. For example, Lithium Technologies had incredible results after investing in their team. The company’s CSAT score increased from 92.54 to 98.41 percent and its initial response time improved by 56 percent. In addition, Maintenance Connections saw a 5 percent increase in tickets responded to in the first hour, and a 15 percent increase in resolution within 24 hours following the Service Ready for Technical Support and Diagnostic Troubleshooting to be Service Ready training sessions.

Would investing in your team be worth improvements similar to these?  Reach out to Miller Heiman Group for additional success cases on how we can help create your defining moments.

Follow Philippe Mesritz on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Follow Ken Shampo on LinkedIn.

Follow Danielle Dalton on LinkedIn.

Up Next

How One Company Improved Its Customer Experience—Despite the COVID-19 Pandemic

Customer Experience | December 8, 2020

How One Company Improved Its Customer Experience—Despite the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dramarama: Coach Your Customer Experience Team From Surface Acting to Deep Acting

Customer Experience | June 2, 2020

Dramarama: Coach Your Customer Experience Team From Surface Acting to Deep Acting

Four Behaviors for Customer Experience Professionals to Master

Customer Experience | May 28, 2020

Four Behaviors for Customer Experience Professionals to Master