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As a high school kid, Mike McKinley had a small garbage business. Sometimes his father would drive him from house to house as Mike picked up the garbage.
On one of those occasions, his Dad yelled at him, “Pick up that garbage out in the yard.”
Mike yelled back, “They don’t pay me to pick up garbage in the yard.”
His Dad bolted out of the truck and with his nose six inches from Mike’s, he said, “Sometimes you don’t get paid for what you do at the time you do it. Now get out there and pick up that garbage.”
Customer service is a lot like that. You do some things for the customer because it’s the right thing to do — whether or not you get an immediate payback.
Mike said he was surprised sometime later when the owner of the garbage-strewn yard looked him up. He gave Mike a nice tip and a hearty “Thank you” for cleaning up his yard.
Customer service is also a lot like that. When you do more than you said you were going to do, the customer tends to remember. And the customer tends to reward you in some way or other. He may continue to do business with you, talk about you in the most complimentary way, or any number of other activities.
It’s called customer enthusiasm, which is far superior to plain old customer satisfaction, which also, by the way, is not enough to keep you alive or competitive in today’s world.
In last week’s Tuesday Tip, I gave you three strategies for creating customer enthusiasm. Here are three more. Just remember, you can adapt these strategies to use at home as well, with equally wonderful results.
► 4. Surprise your customers
One of my clients, whose name I will keep private because of our confidential coaching relationship, used this strategy to turn his little out-of-the-way Italian restaurant into a national chain. He knew that Monday and Tuesday nights were the slowest nights in the restaurant business, now, as well as pre-COVID days. In fact they were often profit-losing nights.
So once a month, on a randomly chosen Monday or Tuesday night, the customers get a letter instead of a bill.
His letter says it’s the restaurant’s mission to make people feel like guests, so it seemed awkward to charge guests for having a good time. Their meal is on the house.
What are the results? By giving away one free night of meals each month, he reduced his revenue by 3.3%. But he has a full house on the eight nights of the month his place was normally empty.
Of course, word-of-mouth testimonials are the best advertisements you can get. In a short time, my client had hundreds of people saying, “You can’t believe what happened to me last night.”
What are you doing to surprise your customers? And it doesn’t matter if they are your internal or external customers, or even the folks at home. Go out there and surprise your customers.
► 5. Remove your customers’ frustrations.
Everyone has been stressed out for a long time. But now with the increased riots, looting, crime, COVID lockdowns, economic strain, school closures, and political hatred, stress is off the charts. So this is not the time you would ever want to do anything that might add to your customers’ already overstressed life.
Better yet, this is the perfect time to ask what you can do to help remove some of your customers’ frustrations. There is a two-step process you can follow.
First, list all the things that bug you when you’re a customer.
Personally, I hate it when I can’t find a clerk when I need one. I hate it when I ask to see a manager and no one knows where they are or when they’ll be back. I hate it when I call a place of business and I get three different people who don’t know the answer to my question. Or I get three different answers to the same question. And I hate it when I wait on the telephone “helpline” for thirty minutes.
You get the point. So go ahead and make up your own list of frustrations in the world of customer service.
Second, ask yourself if any of those frustrations happen in your organization. Are you guilty of doing any of the things you hate? Be honest.
One of my clients in the healthcare industry had to admit they were putting too much emphasis on “processing” patients quickly and too little emphasis on “connecting” with their patients personally. They were treating their customers more like numbers than people. So they sent their management team to my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary experience to learn more about building relationships
Their results were remarkable. Everyone got on board, from the executives to the part-timers. And they knew they were on track when one family, whose father had passed away in their hospital, kept on praising the entire hospital staff for its extraordinary personal touch. For example, the family noted the actions of the cleaning lady who worked the midnight shift. As she cleaned their father’s room, she would stop for a moment, pat his hand, and say, “It’s not so bad. It’ll be okay.” Indeed, the last few days of their father’s life, he kept talking about the comfort and peace it gave him.
How are you going to identify your customers’ frustrations and then remove those frustrations?
I invite you to attend the next offering of my Journey-to-the-Extraordinary experience … in person or virtual … on November 12-13, 2020.
► 6. Learn from the best.
In other words, find out which organizations have mastered customer enthusiasm. Take a look at what they’re doing. And see if you can adopt any of their practices or adapt some of their approaches to fit your situation.
Take Disney, for example. On many surveys, they’re ranked as one of the best when it comes to customer enthusiasm. When you dig a little deeper, when you look for the reason why, you’ll see that customers continually comment on the “clean and friendly” atmosphere at Disney.
Now that’s not rocket science. You’d think any business could adopt a similar “clean and friendly” approach. But very few have.
Of course, you might think, what’s the big deal about being “friendly.” You might think you’re plenty “friendly” with the customers. But are you really?
Look at what Disney does to perfect their friendliness. For one thing, they preach customer courtesy all the time. They have weekly staff meetings on just that topic. Very few companies bother to do that.
They also refer to their customers as “guests.” They even spell the word “guest” with a capital “G” to remind them who’s most important and who’s paying the bills. Somehow the concept of “guest” brings out a deeper level of respect and friendliness than the word “customer.”
What lessons from great customer service providers can you adopt today?
Final Thought: In a world where your customer has lots of choices, you must be better or different than the competition.