Customers can tell you what they WANT. But if you listen carefully, you can hear what they really NEED.
In a previous “Tuesday Tip,” I told you that customers NEED to have a “remarkable experience.” They’ve got to have something to talk about — whether that be you, your products, or services.
Oh they may say that all that “experience” stuff is nothing more than fluff. They may say they don’t “need” all those touchy-feely extras, but the statistics on customer loyalty paint a very different picture. Customers who have a great “experience” with you stay with you.
And if I may be so bold, you can’t afford to skip this part of the customer service formula. Bob Wynn, the vice president of the Federal Reserve System for several years, says it takes 17 times more effort to get a new customer than retain an old one.
So let me give you a few more tips on how you can create “memorable experiences” for your customers.
=> Discover Your Customer’s Definition Of “Remarkable.”
As the old saying goes, different strokes for different folks. What’s considered truly exceptional service in one industry may mean nothing in your industry or with your customers. In some towns, for example, a gourmet restaurant is a place where you leave the tray on the table after you eat. In other places, that wouldn’t even come close to being “remarkable.”
I work a lot with the construction industry, for example. In that particular business, customers are floored when a contractor actually returns phone calls — within hours rather than days. When they do, it’s considered truly “remarkable.”
I know that’s been true for me. When I have some project to complete, I’ve gotten in the habit of calling every single ad in that particular section of my hometown newspaper. Based on previous experience, I know that fewer than 20% of them will call me back. And I can’t begin to tell you how many people I’ve hired simply because they called me back.
And how do you find out your customers’ definition of “remarkable?” You ask for feedback.
I learned that lesson when I bought a new car three years ago. I learned that from Murray Wright, the Infiniti salesman. And even though I haven’t seen him since, I was so impressed with his approach that I still remember his name.
Shortly after I met Murray and was looking at his cars, Murray told me that he was always striving for excellence in customer service. He asked me to tell him if he ever did or said anything that was less than excellent. And he would ask me once in a while how he was doing.
He wasn’t trying to be “slick” or use some fancy sales “technique” on me. He was being sincere. He wanted to serve, and he wanted to give me a “remarkable experience.” And the result? I bought an Infiniti even though I had never even thought of that brand before.
Becky Hazen, the owner of Blue Lake Sport, told me, “My life was turned upside down when my husband/business partner died recently. We were a team for 31 years in a retail business–open 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. Then, to make matters worse, a direct competitor, a large national chain store, opened near us the very day he died.”
“My self-confidence was at rock bottom as I watched the sales figures drop and tried to pick up the pieces of my life and the store. Then I picked up your book and training course on ‘Creating Customer Service Champions.’ It helped us compete against the new business in town. All of the employees read the chapters, and we thank you for all the ideas you gave us on how to make each customer feel special. We have become a ‘remarkable’ business.”
“It was just what we needed. THANK YOU!!!”
=> Use Some Humor.
If your goal is to get your customers to talk about you in a positive way, humor goes a long way in helping you reach that goal. People talk about funny things that happen to them.
It’s like the airline pilot who got on the public address system to explain an hour’s delay in take off. He said, “We’re sorry about the delay, but the machine that automatically crushes your luggage has broken down, and we’re having to do it by hand.” We all laughed. Of course, none of us liked being delayed, but the pilot’s response helped the situation.
Or it’s like the restaurant that had a sign in the window that read, “All languages spoken here.” When my wife Chris walked in, she asked, “who speaks all languages here?” The waitress said, “The customers.”
That night, Chris had to tell me about her experience. And the restaurant achieved its goal of getting its customers to talk about them.
On the reverse side, I’ve found that I get a lot better service if I use some humor. The creation of a “remarkable experience” goes both ways.
One time a waitress asked, “How would I like my potatoes cooked?” I replied, “That would be great.” She laughed, but she was extremely attentive throughout the rest of the meal.
Another time I drove my car up to a toll booth. The attendant said in a monotone voice, “35 cents.” I said, “Sold.” He smiled, wished me a good day, and offered some free advice on which exit I could take if I wanted to avoid a traffic delay.
=> Brainstorm To Stay Ahead Of Your Competition.
To keep on creating more and more “remarkable experiences” for your customers, get your team together. Brainstorm all the things you “could” do for your customers. But don’t ever stop with the first good idea that comes to you. The first idea is rarely the best idea.
The reason is fairly simple. The very fact that it was your first idea, that it was easy to come up with, means that your competition has probably thought of that same idea.
Make sure you come out of the meeting with at least four or five ideas. That way you’ll have some flexibility in deciding which one to use.
Action: Are you trying to create “remarkable experiences” through trial and error? Are you guessing what your customer wants and needs? That’s a terribly inefficient and highly expensive way to conduct your business.
This week ask 10 customers about the best experience they’ve ever had with your organization. Let them tell you about their “moments of magic.” Then ask another 10 each week for the next 4 weeks. You’ll begin to see a trend — or at least you’ll know what your customer considers “remarkable” — and you can make sure you do more of those things.