Category Archives: Customer Loyalty

To be the World’s Best, Create Their Experience, Not Yours.

How do you get your customers to feel that their experience with your business is so over the top that they want to tell the world? In order for them to be that delighted, you have to answer this question for your customer “What would World’s Best look like?” or “WWWBLL” (pronounced “Weeble”).  And it is not “World’s Best” as you see it, but it is “World’s Best” as your customer expects it. Once you understand the WWWBLL expectation of your customer, then you need to deliver that experience consistently. There are Three Principles to delivering the WWWBLL experience:

  1. Think Like Your Customer.
  2. Create Their Experience.
  3. Make a Difference.

I addressed Principle One in a previous blog. On to Principle Two.

Principle Two of the WWWBLL Experience: Create Their Experience.

Customers walk into your establishment with expectations. Creating their experience means understanding those expectations. Too often, businesses are telling their customers, “Here’s what we offer that is different from our competitors?” Instead they should not focus on the “what” but on the “why” they offer it and make sure the “why” is important to the customer. When I was general manager for a business hotel, we offered free high-speed internet, a mouse pad, and upon request, at no charge, in room computer printers and basic office supplies. We thought the reason why guests chose us over our competitors was because we created an atmosphere where they could be more productive. We invited our frequent corporate guests and meeting planners for lunch to confirm that we were on the right track. To our surprise, we were not only on the wrong track; we were going in the opposite direction. They said, “We aren’t looking to be more productive when we get back to the hotel. In fact, we do that all day when we are out there pounding the pavement or making sure the meeting runs smoothly. When we get back into the room, all we want to do is decompress. Offer us things that allow us to do that.”

In our case, the reason “why” customers selected our hotel was not to be more productive, rather it was to relax. Once we knew that, we offered amenities and services suggested by our guests that allowed them to do just that. The list included Bose® IPod speakers, aromatherapy candles, memory foam pillows or foot massagers upon request, an extensive wines by the glass room service menu and in room massages. Of course, we continued to offer the other amenities but we had created loyalists and advocates of our hotel because we asked and answered the right question, “Why?” We had created their experience, not ours.

Once you have created their experience by understanding the “why” from your customer, then deliver that experience consistently. Make sure you remove all the potential dissatisfiers. Just ask this question, “Is there any one thing we could have done to make your experience more enjoyable?” Whatever your customer mentions is a dissatisfier. Do all you can to eliminate each dissatisfier from future experiences.

But meeting the expectations of your customer by addressing the reason why he wants to do business with you and removing all the dissatisfiers only gets you to be competitive. What do you need to do to stand out and become your customer’s “World’s Best” favorite?

PRINCIPLE THREE OF THE WWWBLL EXPERIENCE: Make a Difference.

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To be the World’s Best, Think Like Your Customer.

How do you get your customers to feel that their experience with your business is so over the top that they want to tell the world? In order for them to be that delighted, you have to answer this question for your customer “What would World’s Best look like?” or “WWWBLL”.  And it is not “World’s Best” as you or others see it, but it is “World’s Best” as they perceive it. Once you understand the expectation of WWWBLL for your customer, then you need to deliver that experience consistently. There are Three Principles to answering the WWWBLL question: Think Like Your Customer. Create Their Experience. Make a Difference.

Principle One of the WWWBLL Experience: Think Like Your Customer

To your customers, their perception is their reality. Jan Carlzon, then president of SAS Airlines, coined the phrase “Moment of Truth,” which defined any time a customer comes into contact with any aspect of a business, and based upon the collective sum of those “Moments of Truth” forms an unshakeable perception of that company.

Why is the male grooming standard at Disney theme parks so strict? If children are not brought to Walt Disney World by their parents, they are brought there by their grandparents. Ask Grandma if she would leave her grandchild in the care of the teen attendant with the body tattoos, long hair, beard and multiple body piercings – a Moment of Truth. Grandma may not say it, but she’s certainly thinking, “Of course not! If he’s not doing drugs, he’s probably selling drugs.” That attendant could be Disney’s Cast Member of the Month. It doesn’t matter. Grandma’s perception is her reality.

If you dine in a restaurant for the first time, have a decent meal, but, at the end, step into the restroom – a Moment of Truth – and you find it filthy, you may not return. You are thinking to yourself, “If the owner doesn’t feel restroom cleanliness is important, he probably doesn’t think it’s important in the kitchen either.” Your perception is that if the restroom looks and smells this bad, then how clean could the kitchen be. And your perception is your reality.

Customers buy with emotion and justify that decision with their own logic. Customers are willing to pay a premium, above what others might define as reasonable, because emotionally it makes them feel better. Think about a Four Star resort spa experience. The reality is that you will go into a private room and take off all your clothes. A complete stranger is going to come into that room and for fifty minutes touch you all over your body. And for that experience you are going to pay the spa about a hundred dollars. Realistically why would you do that? Because emotionally you believe you feel so much more relaxed, it was worth it. Your perception is your reality.

If you want to relax at home, envision yourself in a “Calgon, Take Me Away” moment, soaking in a bubble bath, surrounded by candles and listening to Kenny G. You can go to any dollar store and buy a pack of ten emergency candles for a dollar. That makes each candle just ten cents – very reasonable. But for some of you, that is laughable. If you are going to relax, dollar store candles just won’t do. You’ll go back to that spa and get one of their scented candles. The spa sells their candles for ten dollars each. You could get one hundred dollar store candles for the price of just one spa candle. One hundred candles! You could have a bonfire in the bathroom with those candles! But which candle would make you feel better? You’d say it’s because the spa candle smells like mango-papaya. I could tell you that you could go back to the dollar store to buy air fresheners, pop them open and put them all over the bathroom. But you’d respond that it just wouldn’t feel the same as how the spa candle would make you feel. And as hard as I might argue, your perception is your reality. You, thinking like a customer, are willing to pay a premium because it makes you feel better.

Now you are thinking like your customer. Your customers’ perceptions are their reality and they buy with emotion. Their expectation of customer service is no different. Maya Angelou said it best, “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” If your customers’ Moments of Truth interactions with your business are “wow’s” and, in the end, they feel great, they will be sure to tell their world of family and friends. So how do you create an experience that will emotionally bond your customer to your company?

 

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WWWBLL’s wobble but they don’t fall down.

The customer service business is full of acronyms and abbreviations: CSM, CSR, CapEx, QA, ROI, SOP, VIP, WiFi. For those who want to drive their companies to stand above their competition, let me add one more – WWWBLL. “WWWBLL” ispronounced “Weeble” just like the roly poly toys. The toys’ tagline was “Weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.” WWWBLL stands for “What Would World’s Best Look Like?” And just like Weebles, the World’s Best companies may wobble in this economy but they certainly won’t fall down. So to stand above your competition, define “what would World’s Best look like” for your customer and then work very hard to deliver it.

Customers make a buying decision on three criteria: cost, location and reputation. According to Ken Irons in Market Leader, 70% of a brand’s reputation is based on the customer’s perception of the interaction they have with people. Nowadays it is not only your guests’ personal interactions and subsequent word-of-mouth advertising that will drive your reputation; it is also the viral impact when those interactions are posted on websites like TripAdvisor, Angie’s List or Yelp. Times have certainly changed when all we had to do to build our reputation was to include handpicked testimonials in our sales packets. Now clients reading these third-party sites take the reviews as gospel from people they have never and most likely will never meet. Communications expert Michael Angelo Caruso has identified this tendency of web surfers, “If they hear it from us it is advertising. If they hear it from someone else, it’s The Truth.”

If you are in their preferred location and if your reputation is WWWBLL, then they will come back and tell others about it. The only way to drive such rave reviews is by having your customers feel that the experience you offered was so over the top that they want to tell the world. So how do you do that? How do you create a customer experience that answers the question “What Would World’s Best look like? There are Three Principles: Think Like Your Customer. Create Their Experience. Make a Difference.


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The customer is paying for his experience, not yours.

Customer Satisfaction Blue Grey HorizontalThe goal of any business is to attract and retain customers. And customers actually make it very easy for you. No customer walks into your establishment and says to you, “Here is my money. Now, dissatisfy me please.” In fact, your customer comes in with an expectation that what you offer could be more valuable than his money. Nobody knowingly expects to pay good money for a poor product or service.

If it’s so easy, why isn’t your business doing so well that you are literally turning away customers? It’s because you already are turning away customers and you may not even know it. You cannot think you are only selling a commodity or service to your customers. You are not in the product business. You’re not even in the service business. You are in the experience business.

Think of your top three competitors. They have a similar product. In fact, if your competitors really wanted to, they could come pretty close to replicating it. What they can’t replicate are your people. And it is your people who deliver your experience. A recent American Express survey found that 70 percent of consumers are willing to spend an average of 13 percent more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service. So the good news is that if you understand that your company is in the experience business and you get the experience right, you reap more revenue and repeat customers.

The bad news is that, in the same survey, 78 percent of consumers claimed they have abandoned a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience.

Ultimately, for you to retain your customers you have to think like your customer. You have to understand that you are in the experience business and the customer is paying for his experience, not yours.

So how do you create an experience that will retain your customers and attract new ones? Here’s how in just three steps:

  1. No Surprises.
  2. No Excuses.
  3. One Percent more.

No Surprises. Find out what that expectation is of your customer. Then deliver it plus one percent more. That’s a take on the “Underpromise. Overdeliver” service mantra. As a hotel general manager, I defined that the restaurant could never run out of any item that was on the menu. Think like the customer. The menu is actually our promise in writing. The customer orders and the server says they have just run out of it – an unexpected bad surprise for the customer. The server, manager and chef thinks it’s OK to run out of something – our experience. If they kept everything in stock beyond demand it would lead to higher food costs – still our experience. But the customer sees it on the menu and expects that he can get it with no surprises – his experience. And the bottom line is the customer is paying for his experience, not ours.

No Excuses. Of course, on busy nights, we did sell out of certain items or it took too long for an order to be served. Step two: No excuses. “I’m sorry, we had more people order that than we expected.” or “I’m sorry, we’re a little understaffed tonight.” All that is really the restaurant’s experience – our experience. Think like the customer. The customer decided to eat in the restaurant with the expectation of being satisfied. Any reason the restaurant gives to the customer is “heard” as an attempt to explain why the restaurant could not deliver – an excuse. Here is what the customer is hearing “So what that you’re sorry. I still don’t’ have what I wanted.” No excuses. Better to respond to your customers with an “I apologize.” Since you could not deliver their expected experience, you need to give them something, at the very least, a sincere apology. Then follow up with a gesture of atonement.

One Percent More. Deliver an experience that is just a bit more than what the customer expected. For example, customers expect your business to open on time. As a customer doesn’t it frustrate you when you go to a store that clearly posts that it will open at 8:30 a.m. and it actually unlocks the door for its first customer at 8:45 a.m. – their experience. And if you were that customer on your way to work, didn’t that 15 minutes seem more like an eternity with each passing minute – your experience. And as the customer, you were paying for your experience, not theirs. Your customers expect the same from your business. So what’s the 1%? Just make it a Best Practice to open 10 minutes before and stay open 10 minutes after your posted times. Remember, to the customer, it is not the one big wow that will separate you from your competitors; it will be the 1001 little “wows”, those one percents, that will make the big difference.

So remember, the customer is paying for his experience, not yours. Deliver their experience with no bad surprises and if there is a surprise for the customer, apologize and fix it with no excuses. And always add just that one percent more.


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