What is it like to do business with Your Company? Do you know what your customers really think about you? Do you have “killer customer care” that draws customers back again and again?
“Killer customer care refers to the combination of principles, ideas, and techniques that are designed to consistently and systematically enhance the depth and breadth of your customer relationships. Killer customer care is the ultimate competitive differentiation for businesses in the twenty-first century” (George Colombo, Killer Customer Care).
So how do you achieve this killer customer care? You begin by building your business from the ground up around the specific needs of your customers. You create a customer-care system that is so remarkable they wouldn’t consider buying from anyone else.
For a moment, let me speak as one of your valued customers. I want to offer five suggestions to help you earn our loyalty and turn us into raving fans.
1. Put on Your Best Face
As customers, we like to be served and not sold. We like people who are positive, polite, understanding, caring, and helpful. In other words, BE NICE! Give us clear communication without jargon or legalese. We like people who call us by name and personalize our service. We appreciate those who listen, take ownership of our problem, and are immediately responsive to our needs. We expect your employees to have some expertise and a “can-do” attitude. We don’t like to be taken for granted. In fact, we want to feel important throughout the lifetime of our relationship.
2. Use Systems to Meet and Exceed Expectations
We like to do business with companies that deliver explicitly on their promise. We like error-proof “business systems” for handling all contacts, accounting services, and problem resolution. With good systems, the job is done right the first time and every time. Nothing is left to chance, and nothing falls through the cracks. (Customer dissatisfaction is usually the result of a breakdown in established business systems or processes.)
Your customer-care systems should empower employees to solve our problems quickly and turn any frustrations we may have into gratitude and appreciation. Commitments to us must always be kept. Your consistency and reliability over time are more important than occasional sales promotions or grand events.
3. Surprise and Delight
We like to be pleasantly surprised. Some of us like to be entertained and to have fun. We all like to be “WOWED!” While we are grateful for consistency and reliability, we also want an element of freshness and unpredictability that will keep us excited. If you continually exceed our expectations, you’ll not only get our repeat business, but we’ll tell our friends.
4. Monitor and Measure
We want you to listen to what we have to say. You’ll want to know:
- What we like and what we don’t like.
- What would make the buying experience more satisfying.
- What we like better about your competition.
- What we wish your company would provide that you currently don’t.
- Why we were surprised, annoyed, frustrated, or disappointed.
Shop your business from our point of view. If you want to better understand our expectations, ASK! We feel valued when invited to give feedback or opinions. Listen between the lines and don’t be afraid to hear the brutal truth. We want YOU to be the best, just as much as you do!
(Some customer feedback is quantitative in nature, such as the percent-of-sales of returned merchandise. Other information is qualitative such as suggestions or complaints. Make sure you have a system to capture this information, transfer it to management, analyze it, and act upon it.)
5. Practice the “Golden Rule”
We like to do business with companies that adopt the “Golden Rule”—treat us the way you would like to be treated. Don’t just subscribe to the Golden Rule as a philosophy; build it into your business systems and processes. When your company culture embodies this philosophy, it will become remarkable!
Protect Your Investment in Customers
Start today by defining exactly what experience you want your customers to have. Then identify the most common interactions you have with them—telephone, walk-in, sales presentations, inquiries, problem resolution, and so forth. Finally, turn those interactions into business systems or processes that incorporate the five suggestions above. You’ll be amazed by the results!
Remember: Each customer contact is a moment of truth, a time when you can make or break a relationship.
Killer customer care is everyone’s job. Never stop talking about how to improve the customer experience. Your business success depends upon it!