IS THERE REALLY A SECRET SAUCE TO GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE?

 
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Your customers have demands and they aren’t what you think. In a world where everything is fluid and change is now the norm, how do you compete especially when perception is reality? In the past, excellent customer service was broken down into these six categories:

 1.   RELIABILITY

 2.   AVAILABILITY

3.   SIMPLICITY

 4.   ADAPTATION

 5.   ANTICIPATION

 6.   ACCOUNTABILITY

 You will probably agree with me that these are worthy ingredients of excellent customer service and that any company that lives by this rule of six would have no problem attracting customers. Well, that was yesterday and today we have new consumer perceptions and expectations. Remember, I told you the world was fluid and change was the new norm! Now that you have fully grasped that concept, here’s the revised rule of six or the secret sauce:

 1.   CULTURE

If you’re a leader, culture is everything. It’s the foundation for which you base not only the employee mindset, but that of the customer as well. Your culture is the shingle outside your business. It will either allow customers to come in and stay in or never come and stay away forever. This is the trickle-down affect that starts at the top and infects everyone associated with the business. It’s the buzz, it’s the excitement, it’s the breath, it’s the life of your business. Live by it or die.

 2.   PURPOSE

As British author and speaker, Simon Sinek says; “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. Having purpose beats passion ever time. Can you define your company’s purpose in a single sentence? After all, it does define your culture, brand reputation and business performance. If you’ve never done this or it’s been a while, I challenge you to take a deep dive and figure this out. Consumers can sniff out bull shit from miles away, so be authentic, be vulnerable, but most of all, be transparent.

 3.   ACCESS

Back in the day, the average healthcare consumer would switch health plans for an average savings of $3 a month….yes, you heard me correctly, just $3 a month. Today it’s insanely difficult to get consumers to drive out of their neighborhoods for anything. I know, because I’m one of them. So how do you wrangle consumerism to your door whether that be a bricks and mortar door or an online door? Make accessing you and your product or service as simple and as efficient as possible. I’ll drive anywhere where I know access is easy or shop online where there are three easy steps. If you make it difficult, then you’ve easily shrunk your customer base by 50%. Yes, that was 50% and those numbers will get higher!

 4.   PERSONALITY

Culture drives personality. That’s the tie back to the trickle-down affect. More than ever, the consumer is demanding more personalized service. They want to feel like part of the family, they want to be called by name, they want to be noticed.. Most companies miss the boat thinking the sale is the finish line when in all reality, it’s just the starting line. If you want return customers, you better treat them like family. OK, bad analogy, but you get my point. The more you make it personal, the more the customer is hooked for the long-term. This is an important differentiator if you want to stand out from your competition.

 5.   EXPERIENCE

Twenty-five years ago, who would have imagined paying $5 for a cup of coffee at that large global chain from Seattle! Not me, but I eventually did. What I failed to understand initially was that it wasn’t about the coffee, it was about the experience this brand created within its stores. It became more about community, friends, good music, a place to sit and contemplate, along with that warm beverage of consistency. Consumers are now accustomed to being wowed. If you don’t have a wow factor or two, you better find one. The status-quo is a business killer.

 6.   SOLUTIONS

Every problem has a solution or so they say. Consumers want you to be the solution to their problem not the cause of another one. Is your business positioned as problem solver? Your job is to educate the customer so they can make an informed choice that is right for them whether this involves buying the right car, mattress, wine, coffee, furniture, vacation, or rocket ship. If you develop trust with the customer, you help them make an informed decision, you solve their problem, you make them happy, guess what happens everytime? That was rhetorical.

 Well folks, there you have it. I didn’t just grasp these out of the air or have a unicorn deliver them to my door. These are observations, as well as strategies and tactics I’ve used with clients and brands to create the ultimate customer experience. You either adapt, evolve, compete or you eventually die.

 Be well my friends!

 

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