Satisfying your customers isn’t good enough in today’s competitive markets. Meeting their needs falls short of earning their loyalty and turns your business into a commodity where only Price is important.
Winning the competitive battle demands that customers be “dazzled”; left “breathless” whenever they engage with your organization.
The challenge is to build an organizational culture that serves the customer in every way. Not one that pushes products and services at them. Not one that forces them to engage with the organization in an unfriendly way. And not one that channels customer calls to a call center in some remote part of the world where communicating in the home language of the customer is a challenge for the call center reps.
Here are three steps to create a culture that amazes people and produces performance levels unmatched by others.
1. Recruit people who love to serve
People who are born with an innate desire to serve their fellow human beings. People who get absolute joy from doing whatever it takes to see someone’s eyes light up. Customers can’t be delighted if an employee would rather be taking inventory than taking care of them. These employees want to run from a customer; you can see it in their eyes.
And you can’t train people to “love” other people. You can train them to “grin” with a smile in their voice, but that’s the extent of it.
To select the right candidate, the recruitment interview should always include the the question “Do you love people?” with the follow up “Tell me a personal story that proves it”. If you get goosebumps from the answer, hire the person. If not, show them the door.
2. Trash “dumb rules”
Rules have a legitimate management control purpose but if they drive business away because customers are unwilling to play by them, what’s the point?
Have fun with the idea. I struck a number of “dumb rules committees” to seek out and destroy rules and policies that made no sense to customers and that prevented us from providing amazing service. I made it matter by holding my leadership team accountable in their performance plans for implementing the changes recommended by the committees.
Rules that serve the customer requires their engagement. Ask them for their input in rule design; they will be impressed that you are open to asking for their help.
Empower your front line to bend rules in special circumstances when they don’t make sense to a particular customer and their loyalty is in jeopardy. Not every policy will be acceptable to every customer, so allowing some flexibility is required. Don’t worry, your employees won’t give away the farm. Provide them with the skills to balance the needs of both the company and the customer.
3. Turn OOPS! into WOW!
Sure you do your best to avoid making mistakes, but they will happen. That’s life in any organization. The good news is that if your service recovery is remarkable when you disappoint one of your customers they are more loyal to your organization than if the mistake never happened at all.
The problem is that most organizations don’t have a service recovery strategy. They don’t like to admit they make mistakes (because it’s been drummed into their heads to do it right the first time) and as a result don’t take the time to plan for when it happens (and it always does).
How to recover? Fix the mistake fast and then blow the customer away by surprising them with something they don’t expect. Surprise Is magic.
People expect the screw-up to be remedied but they don’t expect the extra personal attention given to them to atone for the mistake.
Speed is critical. A recovery succeeds only if it is delivered within 24 hours of the OOPS! After that, you’ve lost the opportunity; better to save your energy for the next one coming your way.
Leaving people breathless is not rocket science; it’s about delivering basic human needs. It requires a team of servers, rules and policies that make it easy for customers to do business with you and fast recovery when you screw up.
Accomplish all three and you will have solidified a dazzle culture immune to competition and destined for greatness.
Roy Osing is a former President and CMO with over 33 years of leadership experience covering all the major business functions including business strategy, marketing, sales, customer service and people development. He is a blogger, content marketer, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.
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