Category Archives: Customer Satisfaction

Just Because You Don’t Think It’s a Big Deal, It’s a Big Deal

“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

Last night 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.

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, 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 worth 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.

Now put on your customer service hat. When you serve customers remember, “To the customer, 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.

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Great Service is Great Theater

Great TheaterIn their book, The Experience Economy, Joseph Pine and James Gilmore define that “Work is theater and every business a stage.” If you were an actor delivering a great live theatrical performance, the audience becomes wrapped up in the experience and as they walk out of the theater, they are telling their friends that it was the best thing that they’ve enjoyed in a long time.

It does not matter to the audience that the actors are performing for the 100th time. The audience has paid very good money to see the show and expect that the actors will deliver their performance with the same passion as on opening night. Your customers expect nothing less. As it is in Great Theater, you have to “act it like you mean it”. Do not confuse this with “fake it until you make it”. Your customers, like any audience, can see right through that kind of performance. Do you always feel like working every day, five days a week, 8-10 hours a day, on your birthday, the holidays or even on scheduled days off? Of course not. But do you think the customer really cares how you feel? Of course not! No customer walks into your establishment with an expectation of being dissatisfied. So you have to deliver Great Theater every day whether you feel like it or not.

When you perfect the delivery of the script, you perfect your performance. Break down your customer experience, act it like you mean it and deliver Great Theater. For example:

ACT ONE. Scene One.

 The Customer enters from offstage.

SERVICE PROVIDER: “Good afternoon, how may I help you?”

Motivation: Never say “May I help you?” If the customer is standing in front of you, he obviously needs help or he would have bypassed you completely.

CUSTOMER: “I believe I have a reservation. Last name is Smith.”

SERVICE PROVIDER: “Yes, Mr. Smith, we’ve been expecting you. Welcome to The Best.”

Direction: Maintain eye contact for at least seven seconds and smile as you say your lines.

Motivation:

  • As Dale Carnegie says in his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” So start with the customer’s name.
  • What do you think is the very first question running through the mind of a customer when coming up to an airline counter, front desk, host stand, or reception desk? That question is, “I wonder if they have my reservation?” So to establish a great first impression, incorporate this statement into your welcome, “We’ve been expecting you.” It immediately removes that mental dissatisfier and puts the customer at ease.
  • Follow that up with the name of your business.

Let it all flow together.

“Mr. Smith” (you’re very important to us). “We’ve been expecting you.” (No need to worry about your reservation. We have it.) “Welcome to . . .” (Where did Mr. Smith feel the most comfortable in interacting with a company? With you, of course. )

Define each scene in the customer experience and practice it often off stage. Never practice on the customer. Then perform your role so well that all your customers say to themselves and others that your service was the best that they have enjoyed in a long time. And when you deliver that kind of Great Theater performance consistently, you will build repeat business and customer loyalty.

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No Surprises. No Excuses.

Displeased young girl has a serious conversation with the hairdresser

“Customers perceive service in their own unique, idiosyncratic, emotional, irrational, end-of-the-day, and totally human terms. Perception is all there is!”

Tom Peters

When your customers call or walk into your establishment, they already have a perceived expectation of what your customer experience should be. Your advertising, website and salespeople, which serve a promise to your customers, have already shaped that expectation. Deliver on that promise and your customers come to trust you. Fall short and you have broken that promise and trust. For example, a restaurant menu is a promise to your customers that what is printed on the menu is what you have to offer. If you have to tell a customer that he has an old menu, the new menus haven’t been delivered by the printer and the dry-aged steak is not on the new menu, then to the customer, you failed. He doesn’t care about the printer. All he cares about is his steak. And you failed to deliver it. And his perception is all there is.

Customers don’t care that it’s your first day on the job. They don’t care that you are understaffed because someone called in sick. Customers don’t care that the computers were down when they called.  They only care that they are your customers.  They are willing to give you their hard-earned money in exchange for an experience that they feel is more valuable to them than their money.  And when they come to you, they never have an expectation that they will be dissatisfied.

So how do you live up to your customers’ expectations? At the very least the customer experience you deliver should be with no surprises and no excuses. To your customers, any experience less than their expectation is perceived as a dissatisfying surprise. And any reason you offer to explain why you could not deliver is perceived as an excuse. And their perception is all there is.

So do everything you can to make sure there are no negative surprises. Get rid of any potential dissatisfiers.  For example, remove forbidden phrases such as “I’ll be back in a second,” Can you hold for just a minute?” and “I’ll be right with you.” Such phrases only frustrate a customer when more than 60 seconds go by.  Review all the customer touchpoints and take any negative issue and make it a neutral.  Minimize wait times. Clean dirty restrooms. Create “no hassle” return or exchange policies.  Then, as Larry Winget, the Pitbull of Personal Development puts it, “Do what you said you would do, when you said you would do it, the way you said you would do it.”  That’s it. It’s that simple.  Just “do what you said you would do, when you said you would do it, the way you said you would do it.”

And if the customer is unpleasantly surprised because you could not deliver, then offer no excuses. Simply apologize. Even if the customer asks for a reason, just say, “It doesn’t matter. We failed. It should never have happened and I apologize.” Remove the surprise and offer some form of atonement.

To drive customer loyalty, deliver to each customer an experience that has “No Surprises. No Excuses.”

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Your Satisfied Customers Are Leaving You

Too often, the only way a business asks for customer feedback is with the question, “How was everything?” And for many owners and managers, the response “Everything was fine.” is enough. If you are one of those who is satisfied with “Fine”, then know that your customers are leaving you.

Think like a customer. You hear of a new restaurant in town. You decide to try it out. There is no hostess upon arrival. When she does return back to the stand five minutes later, she curtly asks “How many?” with no other greeting. During service the server wasn’t rude, but he certainly wasn’t exceptional. The meal took slightly longer to be served than you expected. The beverages were never refilled until you asked. Yet when the manager comes up to the table and asks, “So how is everything?”, what do you say? “Fine.” The manager is thinking, “Another satisfied customer,” but you’re thinking to yourself, “Never again.” Your customers are no different. If service is only adequate, there is no real desire to return.

Maybe that’s too harsh. What I’m saying is that if your customers perceive your service as merely satisfactory, it simply is not good enough for them to want to return. They’re perfectly satisfied for the moment, but they’ll switch to a competitor if something better comes along.

Loyalty among satisfied customers is fleeting. In fact, research conducted by Xerox and featured in a Harvard Business Review report by Thomas Jones and W. Earl Sasser, Jr. found out that on a 1-to-5 satisfaction scale, the very satisfied customers who ranked their experience a 4 were six times more likely to defect than the extremely satisfied customer who rated their experience a 5. Creating only satisfied customers will not build your business. In fact, if you are only creating satisfied customers, your business will suffer. Proof? How about KMart versus Wal-mart? Circuit Cityversus Best Buy? Borders versus Barnes and Noble?

Does your product have such an overwhelming quality or price advantage that your customers won’t consider your competitor? If not, then the key criteria to driving loyalty will be how your customers perceive their overall service experience.

If you want to retain your customers and grow your business, you need to deliver service that exceeds their expectations and fully satisfies them. So how do you do it? You must deliver a consistent experience without any dissatisfiers and full of positive Moments of Truth.

I’ve discussed dissatisfiers and Moments of Truth in previous posts. So what is the takeaway in this one? Continue to ask the question, “How was your experience?” And when a customer responds, “Fine,” immediately ask, “Is there any one thing we could have done to make it more enjoyable for you?” Then do whatever it takes to deliver it before he has a chance to walk out the door.

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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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Step One on “How to Wow”: Remove all the dissatisfiers.

The goal of any company is to attract and retain customers. In order to retain customers, you must provide service that will exceed the expectations of the customer. If you only meet the needs of the customer, there is a possibility that the customer will defect if there is a future choice of something new, different or less expensive. So how do you wow the customer? The very first step is to “Think like the Customer”. Identify all the touchpoints within the interaction your customer would have with your company and remove all the potential dissatisfiers.

Imagine your company’s customer experience as a flipbook. Remember flipbooks, a booklet of a series of pictures that changed slightly from one page to the next so that when you thumbed the pages, the pictures appeared to animate. If one of those pages were upside down or blank, you’d actually go back to each page and find out if, in fact, one of the pages was defective. Of all the pages in the flipbook that were right, you focused on the one that was poor. It is no different for a customer interacting with your company. While most of the interactions with you and your staff were good, it only takes one associate to taint the entire experience.

So define each touchpoint and remove any potential dissatisfiers. As I conducted customer service seminars, I’d ask the audience to “think like the customer” and write down what dissatisfies them. Over the course of the seminars, I collected a long list of customer dissatisfiers. They are found on my website at billquiseng.com under Presentation Handouts. Download the list and if they could pertain to your company, then find a way to eliminate it. If you want to start creating your own list of potential dissatisfiers, then start asking your customers, “Is there any ONE thing we could have done to make your experience more enjoyable?” Each one of those answers is a dissatisfier. If you ask 100 people you certainly will get a list of potential dissatisfiers for any returning or future customer.

Eliminate even the smallest potential dissatisfier. For example, one of the key touchpoints is the arrival experience. The potential dissatisfier is that the person who has first contact does not consistently smile, maintain eye contact or greet each customer. Even if that associate does it 97% of the time, there are 3 out of 100 who will be dissatisfied with the arrival experience. So fix it. Now that you have made sure that the front line associate knows to smile and make eye contact with every guest, then scrutinize the greeting. Is the first contact associate greeting the customer with “May I help you?” Believe it or not, that is a potential dissatisfier. Why should it be considered a forbidden phrase? If they are in your establishment, they obviously need help. Think like the customer. Do you walk into a bank with absolutely no intention? Of course not. You are there for a reason. So the first contact person should greet each customer with “How may I help you?”

So the first step in “how to wow” is to define each customer touchpoint. Then scrutinize each one to define if there is a potential dissatisfier and remove it.

 

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Three things you can do today to get ahead of your competition.

Stairs with options and an arrow pointing forward

“It’s hard to be 100% better than your competition, but you can be 1% better in 100 ways.” Rich Melman

Here are three things you can do today that can set you above your competition:

  1. Define and dissect just one of the Moments of Truth customer contact points in your company’s customer experience. Take a potentially negative Moment of Truth and make it neutral. Take a neutral Moment of Truth and make it a reward. For example, educate your front line staff not to say “May I help you?” Your customer obviously needs help if he or she is approaching the staff member.  The proper response should be to greet the customer and ask “How many I help you?” Even better, “How may I serve you today?”
  2. Use the CASE Method to improve the customer experience. Identify just one different idea outside of your industry that you can CASE (Copy and Steal Everything) that would enhance the customer experience. For example, shopping mall food courts offer free samples of their menu to passing customers. If you work in a hotel, could you CASE that in your restaurant at lunch of your signature dinner dishes? How can you offer free samples from your company to potential customers?
  3. Today walk through one of your competition’s location with a mindset to “Be Their Customer”. What are some of the little things that they do better than you? How can you improve upon those touchpoints to enhance and differentiate you from them? Too often, in our own day to day operation we live in a silo mistakenly thinking that our competition just sits there with no intention of doing anything different than before.  Get out there  to actually see for yourself how “the other guys” are doing.

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