Making Customers Feel Special

“The amount of money we receive will be in direct proportion to the difficulty in replacing us.”
Earl Nightingale

When I ask people if they’d like to MAKE more money, almost everyone says, “Yeah, of course.”

But you really can’t MAKE money. As author David McNally points out, he had a second cousin in England who spent a number of years in prison for making money. In the trial summary, the judge said, “The defendant did a masterful job but, unfortunately, for him, the government has given the Bank of England the exclusive right for making money.”

The truth is … money can only be obtained in three ways. It can be stolen, won, or earned. As McNally goes on to say, the first approach causes severe penalties. The second approach involves extreme odds. And the third one requires intellectual and physical effort in the service to others.

The great entrepreneur B.C. Forbes knew that. He said, “All business is a matter of reciprocity, of giving something in exchange for something else. Unless we give, we cannot receive. And the person or concern that gives us most naturally gets most in return … The most notably successful businesses are those that have rendered singularly valuable services to people.”

=> The real source of money

In essence, if you want to MAKE more money, you have to give more service to your customers … because everything starts with the customer. EVERYTHING! Every program, process, and improvement is designed (or should be designed) with the customer in mind. And the concerns of your company and the concerns of your staff have to take second place to the concerns of your customers … if you want to stay in business.

Of course, some people don’t understand that basic truth. They’re more focused on getting than giving.

And that was the case with Sam. He was a go-getter. He would take his wife to work and then later he would go get her. He never held a job. But one day he was hired to guard the mill’s dam from beavers. Thrilled, his wife went to visit him on the job.

Suddenly a beaver appeared. “Kill it,” she cried.

“Nope,” he said. “If I kill ’em, I’d lose my job.”

He was more interested in his own welfare than his company’s (or his customer’s) well being. And similarly, many people these days are more concerned with getting a paycheck than giving a service.

I’m going to presume you’re in the second camp … that you really want to give more service or better service … or you wouldn’t even be reading my “Tuesday Tip.” And that being the case, you need to know that customer service boils down to three elements … making your customer meetings and transactions POSITIVE, MEMORABLE, and SPECIAL.

When a customer meeting and transaction has one of those three elements, it could be classified as “good” service. When your service has any two of those elements, it is “excellent” service. But when you meet all three criteria, you’re giving “exceptional” service. So what does that look like?

=> Making your customer meetings and transactions POSITIVE

It starts with your own attitude. You can’t expect your customers to “feel” positive if you aren’t positive.

That’s why Tony Hsieh, the CEO of the online shoe retailer, says, “We want people who are passionate about what Zappos is about — service. I don’t care if they’re passionate about shoes.”

He’s absolutely right. After all, people are more convinced by your enthusiasm and conviction than by anything else.

As consultant Steve Farber puts it, “We all say we want customers to love doing business with us. Well, we can’t expect anybody to love doing business with us unless we love it ourselves.”

And Disney preaches that same message all the time. In one of their publications they write, “We love to entertain Kings and Queens, but the vital thing to remember is this, every guest receives the VIP treatment. It’s not just important to be friendly and courteous to the public, it is essential! At Disneyland we get tired but never bored, and even if it is a rough day we appear happy. Remember if nothing else helps, you get paid for smiling.”

So you might ask yourself how POSITIVE you feel about your work and the service you provide. And how POSITIVE do your customers feel about their meetings and interactions with you? The entire second day of my “Journey to the Extraordinary” program shows you how to make all your relationships … on and off the job … more positive.

And then …

=> Making your customer meetings and transactions MEMORABLE

Everyone is talking about “market share.” And that’s okay. But it’s kind of like putting the cart before the horse. Before you can have “market share,” you’ve got to have “mind share.”

In other words, you’ve got to stand out in your customer’s mind. You’ve got to be the first … or one of the first organizations … he thinks of when he needs your product or service. You’ve got to be MEMORABLE.

Chick-fil-A has worked hard to do that, trying to make great service inherent in all aspects of the workplace culture … whether it’s a manager serving her employees or a receptionist serving a visitor.

Daniel Harkavy discovered that the first time he visited Chick-fil-A headquarters. Upon his arrival, he was shown right to the company’s vehicle collection because he was a car and motorcycle buff. And when he expressed how much his children would have enjoyed seeing the incredible cars he was admiring, the attendant’s follow-up impressed him even more. She went into the next room, returned with a camera, and insisted on taking several souvenir pictures of Daniel standing in front of the vehicles … a present for his boys. Now that’s MEMORABLE.

You can even do something as simple as some good-natured, kind-hearted teasing … like the customer who wrote to an equipment mail-order company. He wrote, “Please send me the A-1 outboard motor shown on page 200 of your June 2009 catalogue. If the engine is any good, I’ll send you a check.”

The company obviously turned the request over to an employee with a sense of humor. She wrote back, saying, “Please send us a check. If it’s any good, we’ll send you the engine.”

Finally …

=> Making your customer meetings and transactions SPECIAL

Or put another way, making your customers feel SPECIAL. After all, according to 2009 VOX, Inc., the #1 reason customers abandon a provider is “employee indifference.” No one seemed to care about them.

But Captain Denny Flanagan knows how to make his customers feel SPECIAL … in fact, so much so that the “Wall Street Journal” devoted an article to him on August 28, 2007. For example, when pets travel in cargo compartments, this United Airlines pilot snaps pictures of the pets with his cell phone camera, and then he sends the pictures to the owners so they know their pets are safely on board.

Beyond that, Flanagan writes notes to first-class passengers and elite-level flyers on the back of his business cards, addressing them by name and thanking them for their business. If a flight is delayed or diverted to another city because of storms, he tries to find a McDonald’s where he can order 200 hamburgers, or a snack shop that has apples and bananas he can hand out. And when unaccompanied children are on his flights, he personally calls the parents with reassuring updates.

Even though Captain Flanagan’s company, United Airlines, has had lots of employee problems and customer complaints, Flanagan never gives up. He never uses the lame excuses that so many people give for poor service, such as, “That’s not my job … That’s not the way we do things around here … and … It wouldn’t make any difference anyway.”

Yes, you alone, all by yourself, can make a difference with your customers by doing just a few simple things to make them feel SPECIAL.

Action:  Write down 3 things you are going to do this week to make your customers feel SPECIAL, and then do it!