Learn Great Customer Service By Example

You must always deliver more in perceived value than you take in cash cost.

As a former professor, I would occasionally give my students “True-False” quizzes. Let me give you one right now.

“Businesses are built on satisfied customers.” True or false?

Almost everyone says “True.” It only makes sense.

However, the answer is “false.” A study by the Forum Corporation says almost 40% of your “satisfied” customers will switch to another vendor.

As Buzz Bainbridge wrote in Network magazine, many people back in the 1980’s assumed there would be a direct correlation between customer satisfaction and repeat business. It’s just not true.

A “satisfied” customer is simply a person who got what he paid for. Nothing more, nothing less. Once he’s paid for your product or service, he feels no particular need to stay with you.

Oh, he’ll remain “satisfied;” he might even buy from you again — until someone offers him a better price or a better service.

The truth is–you build a business on “enthusiastic” customers. They’re the ones who got more than they paid for. They got extraordinary service on top of the goods they purchased. And so they have a reason to become loyal customers who tell their friends about you.

I remember one such incident when I was consulting with a group of hospitals. A particular family told me about their loved one who was dying of cancer. On several occasions he mentioned a cleaning lady who would come into his room, pat his hand, and say, “It’s not so bad. It’ll be okay.” He talked about the comfort and peace it gave him.

It was that little bit of extra service that the family noted, that the patient noted. It was the extra caring that made them “enthusiastic” customers.

So customer satisfaction is not the goal. It is the starting point. We must have customer enthusiasm.

So how do you get that? That’s what I talk about in my program on “Creating Moments of Magic: Moving From Customer Service to Customer Enthusiasm.” Whether it’s a one-hour keynote, a half-day seminar, or a full-day workshop, I’ll give you lots of tips and tactics that will transform your organization.

But let me give you one tip to get started. LEARN FROM THE BEST. In other words, find out which organizations are best at creating customer enthusiasm. Take a look at what they’re doing. And then 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. I know of very few companies that 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.”

Contrast that to an experience I had recently. Because I fly so frequently, I’m often given the privilege of boarding the plane early. As I walked down the gangway to the plane, I heard one flight attendant tell another one, “Here come the animals.”

It’s no wonder that airline is struggling. They don’t seem to know the first thing about customer enthusiasm. They need to follow my first suggestion — to learn from the best. And they might start by learning from Disney about how to be friendly.

What about you? Are you looking for examples of great customer service? Are you learning from them? Are you adopting some of their practices or adapting some of their approaches to fit your situation?

That’s what Pete Bernard did. As a postmaster at a North Carolina post office, he noticed that one of the best in his business was Fed Ex. They both offered overnight delivery, but Fed Ex charged a great deal more for the service. And Fed Ex was doing very very well.

On the surface, it didn’t make sense. So Pete asked what the difference was. The difference seemed to be one of convenience. Whereas Fed Ex picked up a customer’s package, the post office required you to bring it in.

Pete knew he couldn’t change the policies of the U.S. Postal Service. He couldn’t pick up customer packages. But he was determined to learn from the best. He adapted the convenience of the Fed Ex pickup to fit into his work at the post office.

Pete set up small, noon-hour, postal convenience carts in the lobbies of various office buildings. When people went out to lunch, they could drop off their overnight packages. It was convenient. It was a win-win for the customer and the postal service. The customer saved time and money, and the sales of overnight delivery grew tenfold in just one year.

You’ve got to do the same thing. If you want to be the best, you’ve got to think like the best in customer service.

Stay turned for next week. I’ll give you some more tips on how to create customer enthusiasm.

Action:  List two companies that are extremely skilled at creating customer enthusiasm.

Describe one or two things that each of those companies do to create customer enthusiasm.

From what you’ve said above, list one or two things you could adopt or adapt to your situation.