Don’t serve to satisfy customers. Serve to WOW them.
We don’t have a “Peak-End Rule”. Customers don’t “journey” sequentially over time, from start to finish. They journey emotionally with “ow” and “WOW moments”. The more ow or WOW, the more emotional the moment, the more memorable the experience. The more ow, the more disgustingly memorable the experience, the more disloyal the customer. The more WOW, the more delightfully memorable the experience, the more loyal the customer.
So when we analyze the journey, we first ask, “What are the customers’ expectations? Then we ask, “What are the potential dissatisfiers and how can we remove them?” And when we ask and take action, a negative customer experience has turned into a neutral one. But that’s not good enough. 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.
So don’t serve to satisfy customers. Don’t treat customers as they would have expected. And don’t treat them as they want to be treated. Instead, treat them a little better than they want to be treated. Serve to WOW them.
Customer loyalty is not one BIG WOW to a customer. It’s one little wow delivered consistently to every customer. And when you consistently deliver a little wow, you transform a neutral customer experience into a positive one.
So Be Magnificently Boring! Consistently deliver a low-cost, no-cost “a little better than the average experience that customers expect” product or service so tediously repetitive that you feel it is boring, but to the customer, at that moment, you are Magnificent! For retailers, start opening 10 minutes earlier and closing 10 minutes later. For hotels, offer bottled water at arrival or departure. For auto service repair businesses, wash the car before returning the vehicle. For fine dining restaurants, personalize the menu with the customers’ names. Customers have an emotional connection with you. The more emotional the connection, the more memorable the experience, the more loyal the customer. And loyal customers will return again and again, raving about you to others along the way. Consistency builds trust. Trust builds loyalty. Loyalty builds your business. Deliver consistency Magnificently!
For many years, there has been a stranglehold of the “Profits over People” mentality in business. Senior executives care about top-line revenue, product and labor costs, market share, the stock price, bottom-line profits, and even their competitors, more than their people. Listening to the sweet cha-ching sound of profits, these bad bosses do not hear their grumbling employees and complaining customers many hierarchical rungs below. Even if bosses could hear, they would wear noise-canceling headphones, oblivious to the employees’ concerns and customer complaints. And “Profits over People” bad bosses would demand “My way or the highway” to the employees. Bad bosses didn’t care much about employees and employees could care less about their bosses or customers.
Today, instead of focusing on “Profits over People”, envision “People First” as the solid foundation for everlasting business success. One caveat is “Employees First”. Managers will always see people as “employees”. Despite preaching “Employees First”, senior leaders would always have the rank and file employees “first”, on the bottom of the ladder, well below the leaders.
Recognizing “People First”, leaders will CARE for their people.
- COMMUNICATE openly, transparently, interactively, and frequently any information that their people need and want to know. Listen empathetically to the people’s suggestions, concerns, and complaints. Express compassion with their recommendations and encouragement.
- APPRECIATE the important roles, responsibilities, and efforts of their people.
- RECOGNIZE, honor, and offer accolades for individual and team achievements, accomplishments, and acts of service to colleagues or customers.
- EMPOWER people to make the right decisions for themselves, their colleagues, customers, and their business.
Whether it’s the turmoil of the pandemic, Skimpflation, or The Great Resignation, businesses will invigorate the New Normal with the “People First” culture. No longer are people taking second or third seats to customers or profits.
This cultural transformation of “People First” and the leadership commitment to CARE will enthuse and energize people to be engaged with their colleagues, customers, and the business.
When we create a great experience for people as much as we do for customers, we will earn the loyalty of both. And soon, without our focus on profits, profits will grow.
Is customer service the frontline? Really? Are we called to duty on the frontline battling customers? Doctors and nurses don’t serve their ailing patients. They care. So shouldn’t customer service be customer care? Or even better …
We are the Customer CARE team.
We CARE for each member of our team:
- COMMUNICATE openly, transparently, interactively, and frequently any information that our people need and want to know. Listen empathetically to the people’s suggestions, concerns, and complaints. Express compassion with our recommendations and encouragement.
- APPRECIATE the important roles, responsibilities, and efforts of our people.
- RECOGNIZE, honor, and offer accolades for individual and team achievements, accomplishments, and acts of service to colleagues or customers.
- EMPOWER our people to make the right decisions for themselves, their colleagues, customers, and their business.
We CARE for each customer:
- COMMUNICATE with each customer with a smile, eye contact, and polite interaction. We inform each customer transparently and interactively of the product’s or service’s function, liabilities, and advantages to them.
- ACKNOWLEDGE each customer’s presence and value to us.
- RESPOND empathetically and compassionately to each customer’s questions, concerns, and complaints.
- ENRICH the experiences of every customer.
And when we CARE, each customer is wowed and happy, intent on returning again and again, raving to others along the way.
Customer service is for a job. If all a person did was for a job, then it would be to satisfy a customer. Satisfied customers feel that customer service is good, but not more than was expected, just average. Nobody raves about average. And satisfied customers may leave when they find something better or less expensive. So don’t have a job that satisfies customers.
Instead, invest in Customer CARE to develop your people to wow your customers. And when your people are energized and engaged to enthuse your customers, everyone’s lives will be enriched.
Customer loyalty is not by offering discounts, upgrades, or subscriptions to repeat customers. Real customer loyalty is built on service so great that customers return again and again, raving to others along the way. This week guest blogger Karen Hertzberg offers three QUI strategies to improve your service to keep customers coming back. You can read more about Karen at the end of her post.
What’s better than gaining a new customer? Keeping an existing one.
That’s why a high customer retention rate is an important goal for many businesses. Excellent customer service is one of the best ways to achieve this goal.
Customer retention supports long-term growth because it creates a loyal customer base. When these loyal customers are supported through great customer service, then they don’t have a reason to seek out other businesses.
Why Does Customer Service Impact Retention?
The quality of your service or product helps determine your company’s success, but a positive customer experience truly solidifies a strong relationship with your customers.
When a customer encounters great customer service, they trust that your company will treat them right no matter what issue pops up. This, in turn, makes them more likely to stick with your company the next time they need your products or services. You’re a safer bet than another company whose customer service quality is unknown.
Many business owners focus on building their customer base over delivering excellent customer service. But customer service shouldn’t be an afterthought. Your business is going to make mistakes sometimes, and solid customer service is the only way to make sure those mistakes don’t come back to haunt you.
How Do I Know if My Customer Service is Hurting Customer Retention?
Asking customers to complete a survey after a customer service experience will show you where your weaknesses are. Many times, businesses think they’re doing the right thing but they don’t have a solid understanding of what their customers actually want.
Let your customers tell you where your strengths and weaknesses are. For the best results, make your survey quick, easy to understand, and offer a reward, such as a discount on their next purchase, for completing the survey.
What Are Some Customer Service Strategies I Can Implement Today?
Not sure where to start to improve your customer service quality? Try some of these strategies below to guide your business.
Write a Mission Statement
If you’re ready to rebuild your customer service strategy for the better, start with writing a mission statement. You should always strategize with your long-term goals in mind and a mission statement helps keep you focused.
Set Reasonable Expectations
While it’s tempting to brag about your excellent customer service, it’s far better to pleasantly surprise your customers than to disappoint them. That doesn’t mean you should set low expectations for your customer service. Just be mindful about making claims that your customer service team might not be able to live up to.
Be Honest About Mistakes
Don’t try to cover up any mistakes when you’re dealing with a customer service complaint. If something went wrong, your customer knows it. They won’t appreciate your dishonesty.
If you acknowledge your mistakes and do something to make it up to your customer (a future discount, refund, etc.), this shows your commitment to improving the customer experience.
I hope these tips help your business prioritize the customer experience to build up your customer retention. If you’re looking for more information about customer retention, the visual below debunks some customer service myths to set you on the right path for long-term growth.
Karen Hertzberg is a writer and digital content marketer from the Seattle metro area. Along with consulting on content strategy, she creates effective how-to and thought leadership content for several B2B and B2C companies. Empathy is her superpower, and she’s obsessed with clear, thoughtful written communication.
It is really disappointing to new employees that the first day of orientation is spent on defining the rules and restrictions, usually required by the legal department, that, if not followed, will result in termination. At the end of the day, someone is asking, “How was your first day at work?” You don’t want their answer to be, “Well, all I learned was what will get me fired.”
While that information is important, consider the overall message you are giving new employees at the end of their first day. Highlight your culture by introducing your core values, describing the empowerment processes that employees can use to exceed customer expectations, and offering specific stories when employees went above and beyond for your customers.
Don’t bore your employees with rote customer service training. Instead, inspire them with a customer service education. Give your employees customer service tips and the reasons or explanations why it was important for customers. For example, tell your employees to respond with a customer’s “Thank you,“ with ”You’re welcome,“ or “My pleasure”. Then ask them if they know why “No problem” is a bad response. One or several may say that “No problem” means, in short, it’s no problem to them. Agree but say that the customer believes the employee said, at length, “Of the two of us around here, I’m the star of the show. Whatever you ask is not important to me, so it’s no problem.” Then let them know that you want to emphasize customer-centricity – always revolve around the customer. To customers, it’s all about them, not the employees. Then let them know that you want your employees, not to take care of customers, but to care for customers. Then encourage them to come up with ideas for customer care.
Be sure to prioritize during orientation the customer-centricity culture. Prior to orientation, collect outstanding customer service stories, bind them into a booklet, and give to all new employees.
One day of new hire orientation is never enough. If you want your employees to make it a habit to deliver outstanding service, you have to make it a habit to recognize them when they do. As employees care for their customers, habitually CARE for them: Communicate. Appreciate. Recognize. Empower.
- Distribute positive customer comments via your company email.
- Mount posters of customer testimonials.
- Create a weekly PowerPoint video of customer survey compliments along with the employees’ headshots to be run in the employee cafeteria.
- Each time an employee is mentioned by a customer, give them a raffle ticket. At the end of the month, hold a raffle of prizes.
- Write personal thank you notes to employees who deliver outstanding service. Send the notes to their home directly.
When you emphasize during orientation recommendations for exceptional customer service over rules for poor employee behavior, and follow up regularly with recognizing staff, your new employees will be motivated to live up to your business culture.
Some of you may know that I suffered a stroke in April. Ever since then, I have been sidelined with extensive recuperation and excruciating rehabilitation.
In the United States this week we celebrate Thanksgiving. So I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation and gratitude for many who have wished me well as I recover.
Today I would like to give a very special mention to the following people:
- Edgar Gum, regional vice president for Marriott Vacations and his team, along with my fellow colleagues in Hawaii at the time, David Wong and Amy Shiroma
- Gustavo Salazar, Marriott Vacation Club Pulse
- Femy, Naty, Rebecca, Tammy, Tracy, Haas, Jackie, and Mike of The Henry Dearborn
- Genovev, Janice, Joyce. Kathy, and Marsha, associates who were in hotels I managed
During my time at the properties, these individuals personified customer care over customer service. They not only served their guests to take care of them, they really cared for each guest and every associate. They cared for anyone who was feeling confused, angry, sad, or alone. They cared for everyone on or off the clock. And, as I recuperated, they expressed their genuine concern and well-wishes more than once.
I also want to thank customer service speakers Steve Curtin, Shep Hyken, and Adam Toporek and leadership speaker Rick Olson who wished me well beyond a simple “Get well soon” card. I very much appreciated their genuine concern and well wishes.
To those who were not aware I had a stroke, thank you very much for sticking with me for months without my blog, Facebook and Instagram posts, LinkedIn articles and posts, and tweets. I certainly have appreciated you following me now after I had a long hiatus of publishing and posting while I recovered.
Since this is Thanksgiving, let me share with you quotes about Thanksgiving and gratitude that I have found to be more meaningful given my personal hardship and now, a most bountiful response from so many of you:
“Give thanks not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of your life. Appreciate and never take for granted all that you have.” Catherine Pulsifer
“The struggle ends when gratitude begins.” Neale Donald Walsh
“We must find the time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” John F Kennedy
“No one has ever become poor by giving.” Anne Frank
“Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.” Randy Pausch
“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” Voltaire
“No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” James Allen
“Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return.” Ralph Marston
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” William Arthur Ward
“Appreciation can change a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” Margaret Cousins
“An attitude of gratitude brings great things.” Yogi Bhajan
“Thanksgiving is a joyous invitation to shower the world with love and gratitude.” Amy Leigh McCree
QUI QUOTE: It’s not the one BIG WOW to one customer that builds loyalty. It’s the one small wow delivered consistently to every customer.
A while back, I wrote an article entitled “Great Service is Great Theater”. Today I want to offer another article about the very same subject, an encore performance so to say. So, here it is:
There are some who say that they, as customer service professionals, have been trained to act the part to be happy to serve. They believe they are acting. They claim they can never “be the part” to be happy to serve. Here is what I say:
Movie actors like Scarlett Johansson, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins, and Jack Nicholson act to be happy, sad, scared, scary, or angry. Yet, we, as the audience, believe they are genuinely real. The actors may “act their part”, but they are so good that we, as the audience, believe they are real. Whether actors are acting the part or believe they are real is not important. It is never about the actors. It is always about the audience.
The best movie actors have rehearsed before they are watched by their audience. Even theatrical actors rehearse before a live audience. We, as customer service professionals, can train or rehearse before we connect with our customers, our live audience. But, more often, we are interacting as we go. So we need to be better than actors who rehearse. We need to be so good that our customers believe we really are happy to serve. So be GREAT out there!
We, as customer service professionals, act to be happy to serve our customers so much so that they believe we are genuinely happy to serve. It doesn’t matter if we act it or not. What matters is if our customers believe we are genuine. When it comes to customer service, it’s never about us. It’s always about them. Like the movie and theatrical actors, we have to be Magnificently Boring! We need to consistently deliver a “better than the average experience that customers expect” so tediously repetitive that we feel it is boring, but to the customer, at every moment, we are Magnificent! Customers have an emotional connection with you. The more emotional the connection, the more memorable the experience, the more loyal the customer. And loyal customers will return again and again, raving about us to others along the way. Consistency builds trust. Trust builds loyalty. Loyalty builds our business. So we deliver consistency Magnificently!
When it comes to exceptional service, be Magnificently Boring! And always be GREAT out there!
When you are working in customer service, you have been happy that your customers leave satisfied. You have sold them a product or service that meets their wants or needs. Or you solved their problem for them. You were happy because, in the end, they were satisfied.
But their satisfaction does not guarantee their return. The good news is that your satisfied customers didn’t complain. But the bad news is that your customers also didn’t rave about you to others. And the very bad news is that some customers don’t come back as they seek alternatives that they think will be as good as you but might be less expensive.
You don’t want to earn customers who are merely satisfied. They have to be more than satisfied. They have to be happy. They have to be ecstatic. They have to be raving to others about how great you were.
And in order to do that, you have to do more than satisfy them. First, personalize their experience. Get to know who they are and understand how they are feeling. Create an emotional bond with your customers during your interaction. Don’t just take care of them. Care for them. Then make a difference. Do a bit more than they expect.
After you are done, they will be more than satisfied. And they will be coming back again and again, happily raving to others along the way
To earn loyal customers, you have to do more than be good enough to satisfy them. Be GREAT out there!
P.S. If you lead employees in your business who make your customers happy, then you have to do better than to satisfy every employee. Be GREAT in there, too.