Category Archives: Customer Satisfaction

To be the World’s Best, Be 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 WOWED, you have to answer this question for your customer “What would World’s Best look like?” or “WWWBLL”. The “World’s Best” experience is not as “the world” thinks it, but as the customer personally feels it. 

The customer pays for his experience. And he seeks the best value in his experience for the price you are asking him to pay. So a person living in Detroit who has a five-figure salary feels the best value isn’t a luxury plane to the Swiss Alps, but rather a four-hour drive to Boyne Mountain.

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: Be Your Customer. Create Their Experience. Be the Difference.

Principle One of the WWWBLL Experience: Be 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 by their grandparents. Ask Grandma if she would leave her grandchild in the care of the teen attendant with visible body tattoos, long hair, unshaven 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 reason. Customers are willing to pay a premium 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 being your customer.

QUI TAKEAWAY: 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?

Leave a comment

Filed under Customer Experience, Customer Loyalty, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service, Hospitality

Remove all the dissatisfiers: FORBIDDEN PHRASES

“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.

Your Number One work responsibility is to WOW new customers and have customers return loyally, raving to others. So how do you do that? Be the customer. The customer pays for his experience, not yours. To him, image is everything, perception is reality, and feelings are facts. He buys with emotion and justifies that decision with reason. So he seeks the best emotional value in his experience, not your logical best price, service, or product. When your customer interacts with you, you are not a representative of the company. You ARE the company. And, as the company, you cannot begin to satisfy customers until you remove all the potential dissatisfiers. That means removing Forbidden Phrases. Forbidden Phrases are those which could potentially give a customer a bad impression of you and your company. The customer seeks his best value and, bluntly, one of the Forbidden Phrases is a poor one. Here are just a few:

“I’m new here.” “I’m in training.” “It’s my first day.” Be the customer. If you’re going to pay your hard-earned money, do you want to be served by a rookie? Your customer is no different. Saying that you’re new is your experience. The customer is seeking the best value for his experience. When you say you’re in training, your service is a poor value for his experience. Even more, he doesn’t care about your experience. All he cares about is his experience. 

“To be honest with you …” What is the customer hearing? “… because I lie to you the rest of the time.”

PROPER: Simply do not use any of these phrases. You’re not lying to him because you haven’t said anything. And the best value for the customer’s experience is one that is quick, easy, and painless. 

“That’s not my job.” Be the customer. “Well, it looks like you work here. Why isn’t it your job and why don’t you find the person who does?” 

“I don’t know.” When you say “I don’t know,” you are saying to your customer, “I don’t know. They didn’t train me well and this company always keeps me in the dark.”

“I think …” or “I believe …” “What time does the mall across the street open on Sunday?” “I think 11 a.m.” Here is what the customer is hearing you say, “I have no clue, but here is my best guess… “

PROPER PHRASE: “That’s a great question. Let me find out for you.” The best value for the customer is an experience when he feels he has a great question.

“Okay.” Your customers may be parents. When they asked their six-year-old, “Are you going to clean your room before dinner?” and the child said, “Okay,” what were the parents thinking? When the parents asked their sixteen-year-old, “You’re going to be home by midnight, right?” and the teen said “Okay,” what do you think the parents were thinking? “Okay” to them means “Maybe. Maybe not.” So when you say “Okay” the customer is hearing “Maybe. Maybe not.” Or he is hearing “Okay,” which means “good.” So your customer feels your service is good, not better, just average. Nobody raves about average. 

“No problem.” Your customer has every expectation that his experience will be problem-free. No customer ever calls or walks into your establishment to proclaim, “Here I am. Here’s my money. Dissatisfy me now.” When you say, “No problem.” your customer is thinking, “Why? Was there a possibility that it would be a problem? At the same time, “No problem” means “no problem to you.” What you are saying to your customer is, “Of the two of us, I am the star of the show. And you are asking something so small that it is no problem.” Not exactly being customer-centric are you?

“Okay” and “No problem” are saying to the customer, “We will meet your minimal expectations”. And since you are intent on delivering outstanding service, should anything simply be “okay” or “no problem”? Of course not.

PROPER PHRASE: “Certainly.” His experience is not just “okay” or good, without a problem or just satisfactory. It’s “certainly” better.

“That happens all the time.” For example, “The hotel key you just gave me doesn’t work on my door.” “Oh, that happens all the time.” Here is what the customer wants to ask, “Well, if it happens ALL the time here, why don’t you FIX it?”

PROPER PHRASE: “I apologize.” (More on this below.)

“Our policy is …” Be the customer. Here is what he is hearing you say, “What I am about to tell you will cover us. You’re simply not going to like it. But that’s your problem.”

PROPER PHRASE: Explain what the policy is but don’t use the word “policy.”

“I’m sorry. We’re a little understaffed.” or “Someone called in sick today.” or “I’m sorry” plus any reason why you were unable to deliver.

The customer did not expect to be dissatisfied when he walked into your establishment. Any explanation you give about why you did not meet his expectation is not being heard as a reason. It’s being heard as an excuse. He doesn’t want an excuse. The customer is paying for his experience, not yours. “I’m sorry” is your experience. Bluntly, he doesn’t care how you feel. What’s in it for him? The customer wants action, not excuses. At the very least, it should be that you are giving him an apology.

PROPER PHRASE: Simply say “I apologize.” with no excuses and do whatever it takes to work towards a resolution, even if it means recommending him to your competitor. Don’t “fire” the customer. Simply ask him to “resign.” “I apologize, but we can’t find a solution for you. Could I recommend this company (your competitor)? I could call them if you like.” Both are happy. The customer is happy because you found a quick fix. He has an emotional connection. The more emotional the connection, the more memorable the experience, the more loyal the customer. Ideally, the customer will remember later and return. The competitor is happy because you referred a customer to them. The competitor may refer a customer to you when they can’t fix a problem. A Mutual Admiration Society of sorts. 

QUI TAKEAWAY: Are there any Forbidden Phrases that are specific to your industry? “Checking in? or “Checking out?” for hotels. “Just one?” or “Are you done with that?” for restaurants. Identify and eliminate them from conversations with your customers and you will be on your way to delivering a problem-free, exceptional experience for them.

Leave a comment

Filed under Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service, Hospitality, Training

Word of mouth advertising is NOT the best form of advertising.

I ask my audience, “What is the best form of advertising to build market share?” Invariably, almost everyone responds “word-of-mouth.” Yet I tell them they are wrong.

The reach of word-of-mouth has gone well beyond just family and friends. People are turning to the internet to use sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and even Facebook to make buying decisions. While the reviews and advice are virtual, it is still word-of-mouth advertising. Customers do it and most likely with technological advances, will do it even more. While customers don’t know any other customers, they trust their reviews. Michael Angelo Caruso, leadership and communication consultant, says it like this: “If I tell you how great I am, it’s advertising. If someone else tells you how great I am, it’s the truth.”  Customers trust the reviews and ratings of complete strangers over advertising. But here’s the catch. Customers are not only are looking at the good reviews. They’re making a no-buy decision on the poor reviews, too. For example, if a customer is looking for a hotel, he may veer away from one that has customers post reviews of paper-thin walls or poor housekeeping. A bad review will hurt you more than a good one will help.

So simple word-of-mouth, be it in person or on the internet, is not the best form of advertising. The best form of advertising is “positive word-of-mouth.”

There are three things that happen after you do business with a customer.

  1. You do not meet the customer’s expectations. The customer is dissatisfied, never saying anything to you, but rants to everyone, including those he does not even know.
  2. You meet his expectations but, in his mind, did nothing to set you apart. He may be satisfied, but he tells no one.
  3. You exceed the customer’s expectation where he wants to continue to do business with you. Not only does he loyally return, he raves about you to others, even those he does not know.

QUI TAKEAWAY: It takes more than meeting a customer’s expectations to drive positive word-of-mouth advertising. Satisfied customers feel their experience is good, not better, just average. Nobody raves about average. And satisfied customers will leave when they find something better or less expensive. Exceeding customers’ expectations is the only outcome that actually builds your business. In order to become raving fans, customers must experience an interaction that is simply over the top. They must walk out your doors and say “Wow! That’s the best thing that has happened to us today.” Without the “wow” there is no rave review. And if you are not generating rave reviews, you simply are not generating enough positive word-of-mouth advertising to build your business. So, today, don’t treat customers as they would have expected. And don’t treat them more than they want to be treated. Instead, treat them a little better than they want to be treated. Don’t serve to sell. And don’t serve to satisfy customers. Instead, serve to WOW them. Serve to CARE. Be Magnificently Boring! And Be GREAT out there!


Leave a comment

Filed under Customer Experience, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service, Hospitality, Training

Three things you can do now to get ahead of your competitors.

Don’t serve to sell to customers. And don’t serve to satisfy your customers. Serve to WOW them.

Don’t treat customers as they would expect. And don’t treat customers as they want to be treated. Treat  them better than they want to be treated.

Here are three things you can do now that can WOW your customers and set you ahead of your competitors:

  1. Define and dissect just one of the “ow” or WOW” moments in your company’s customer experience. Take a potentially negative “ow” and make it neutral. Take a neutral moment and make it a “WOW” reward. For example, educate your customer service representative not to say “May I help you?” Your customer obviously needs help if he or she is approaching the representative.  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. Today walk through one of your competitors’ locations 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 day-to-day operation, we live in a silo mistakenly thinking that our competitors just sit there with no intention of doing anything different than before. Get out there to see for yourself how “the other guys” are doing.
  3. 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?

QUI QUESTIONS: Why only three? Because nobody remembers Number Four. Why now? Nobody cares how good you used to be. So do it now. And be GREAT out there!

Leave a comment

Filed under Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service, Leadership