“Just because you don’t think it’s a big deal doesn’t mean your customer doesn’t think it’s a big deal. When your customer says it’s a big deal, it’s a big deal. And even when your customer says “It’s no big deal,” it’s still a big deal. Or why would they bring it up?” – Kristin Anderson, Performance Research Associates
Customers are paying for their experience, not your service. And customers buy with emotion and justify that decision with reason.
Several weeks ago, I was shopping in the local vitamin shop when I overheard a customer tell the cashier, “I think someone just left their credit card.” The cashier says, “It might be that woman’s,” and points to the lady outside just about to get into her car. It was very obvious the cashier wasn’t going to do anything else so the customer took the card and practically ran out to ask. It wasn’t hers. The customer brought it back, left it on the counter, and went about shopping in the store. The card was still on the counter when he went back with his purchase. The customer picked it up and placed it behind the counter. The cashier just left it there. He didn’t stick in the register. He didn’t give it to the manager. Nothing. That cashier didn’t get it. To that cashier, it was simply a piece of plastic. To him, no big deal. To us, as customers, credit cards are unbelievably valuable. If we ever misplace a credit card, let alone lose one, we panic. To us, it’s a BIG DEAL!
Last Saturday, while I was at home, my wife lost her keys at the local Walmart. Her keys were her car keys, the condo apartment keys, and the remote of the complex security gate. Fortunately, she had taken my car keys, but she had panicked and asked if anyone had found her keys. The Walmart service people had not and after searching for them throughout the store, told her they could call her back if they found her keys. Even though she was safely back home, she was distraught. After an hour she called, but they had not yet found them. Minutes later, we received a call to tell her that she could pick up her keys. We quickly came back and when we arrived, the supervisor exclaimed, “We found it!” and the security guard gave the keys to us. My wife was ecstatic, thanking them many times over.
As a customer, you know that we don’t buy from companies; we still buy from people. And we buy from people we know, like and trust. In just reading about what happened in the vitamin shop, you see as I see, as a customer, that the cashier is the store. And that one act that he does not think was at all important to him is the snapshot we take of that business. To the customer who found it, to the customer who hopefully will claim her card, and to me, we are all questioning the trust we can have for that store. And that mental snapshot stays with us until another snapshot of that business replaces it. In fact, for some customers, it may take a motion picture of positive impressions before that one snapshot is deleted. It takes 12 positive service incidents to make up for one negative incident. And some customers who have a bad experience may never give a business a second chance, opting simply to walk away, intent on never coming back.
To many customers, shopping at Walmart is satisfactory. Satisfied customers feel service is good, not better, just average. Nobody raves about average. And satisfied customers will leave when they find something better or less expensive. Walmart may lose many keys in a week, so much so, that service people may think keys are no big deal. But, like customers who lose their keys, my wife feels that those keys were a BIG DEAL to her. Customers have an emotional connection with you. The more emotional the connections, the more memorable the experiences, the more loyal the customers. And loyal customers will return again and again, raving about you to others along the way.
QUI TAKEAWAY: Put on your customer experience hat. When you serve customers remember, “To the customer, you are not the representative of the company. You ARE the company”. If you are a customer service manager, reinforce to your team that each interaction with a single customer represents all of you as a business. Every act of any one individual is a customer’s snapshot of your company’s likability and trust. And every act, no matter how small, is a BIG DEAL. Customers don’t know how big you are. They only know how big you care about them.